Learn How to Grow Plants Without Soil at Hydroponic Farming Workshop

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By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

LIVE OAK, Fla. — Do you want to know how to grow plants without soil? More and more, people want to start a hydroponic farming business. To meet that demand, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension will host workshops this month to get you going.

This marks the ninth straight year that Extension faculty at the UF/IFAS Suwanee Valley Agricultural Extension Center will host the workshops. If you are interested, you can attend March 13-14 or March 17-18 at the center, 8202 County Road 417, Live Oak, Florida.

“We had great demand for information coming from growers and potential growers,” said center director and UF/IFAS Extension specialist Bob Hochmuth. “Although many growers are diversifying from traditional farming enterprises, I would say most are not coming from a traditional farming background.”

The course features hands-on training in several key areas, Hochmuth said. UF/IFAS Extension faculty conduct the course in greenhouses, high tunnels and open-shade structures.

Among other information, participants learn the following:

  • The benefits and limitations of different protected agricultural structures.
  • Various production systems.
  • Choices of how to grow without soil.
  • How to exclude insect pests from greenhouses.
  • How to mix hydroponic fertilizers.
  • The key points in managing the most popular greenhouse vegetable and herb crops.

Hydroponic growing is popular throughout the state, Hochmuth said. In fact, a recent survey found hydroponic operations are in most Florida counties. More are in Central and South Florida because of the ability to grow with a less sophisticated structure, he said.

“Growers can get into this way of farming on small acreage and without large investments in traditional farming equipment — tractors, plows, planters and harvesters, for example,” Hochmuth said. “It is also a way folks can become a farmer and sell fresh, locally grown products on small acreage.”

A few openings remain at a cost of $325. To register, click on: http://bit.ly/2mbQV7V.

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