Manage a Hydroponics Business
Learn the key issues of the hydroponics industry: techniques and management .
Develop your capacity to make informed decisions regarding the management of commercially significant hydroponic crops. This course was developed to cover key issues which have been identified as recurrent problems for many experienced gowers. It is suitable for anyone who has either completed hydroponics I, or alternatively, has significant prior experience.

Learn to Grow a Range of Crops that are Suited to Hydroponics

This is the next step beyond the basics
A course for people who have some prior study or experience; written by highly skilled and experienced consultants, to fill in the gaps that they so often encounter when advising commercial hydroponic farms.

Course Structure and Content
There are eleven lessons in this module as follows:

  1. How the Crop Plant Grows: Understanding how a plant grows in hydroponics, plant growth factors, manipulating and controlling growth, plant troubleshooting, resources, fruit set management, pollination issues, flower initiation, flower and fruit development, etc.
  2. How to Run a Small Evaluation Trial
  3. Harvest and Post Harvest
  4. Tomatoes
  5. Capsicum
  6. Lettuce, Salad Greens and Foliage Herb Crops
  7. Cucurbits (Cucumber and Melons)
  8. Strawberries
  9. Roses
  10. Carnations
  11. Orchids

Course Duration   100 hours

Some of What You May Do in this Course

  • Interview two different people who have experience seriously growing plants in hydroponics. These might be hydroponic shop owners, commercial growers, or even just keen amateurs. They should be people who can answer the questions below from experience.Ask each of these people the following questions and make notes of their answers:
  • What has been the most difficult plant variety you have grown in hydroponics? This should be something you have succeeded with, but have had to put extra effort into succeeding with; and perhaps success has only come after a second or third attempt.
  • What type of system did you use to grow this in?
  • What do you think was the most critical factor in manipulating the growth of this plant; how did you control that factor, and how did your action affect the plant's growth?
  • What type of commercial crops are most suited to commercial hydroponic farming in your locality, and why?Locate information on hydroponic trials that have been conducted by others.
  • Information you find might include evaluations of particular crops or varieties, evaluations of particular technology for hydroponics, or evaluation of various systems or methods for particular crops.
  • You should try to find information from sources such as hydroponics magazines and journals, hydroponics books, the Internet, hydroponics experts, and any other sources you can think of.

Is the Site Suitable for a Hydroponic Farm?

All aspects of a site should be reviewed thoroughly before deciding whether to select it or not and pressing ahead with construction. The land could provide underground bore water which could be tapped into. It could be that the land is solid rock which would be too difficult and costly to manipulate if it needs amending. Perhaps the site is prone to high winds and has little shelter, thus being a risk to a greenhouse operation.  You need to carefully assess the pros and cons of any prospective site.  

Reasonably flat sites are preferable since they preclude the need for levelling. If the only options are hilly sites then it may be possible to terrace them but you would need to weigh up that expense. It is important to also consider the impact of nearby environmental pollutants such as smoke from factories or toxins leached into water sources from nearby industry. On smaller sites it may be possible to construct a rooftop hydroponics operation to save on space, however these types of set ups are often expensive and not ideal situations unless land is extremely limited.   


Open air installations may be adversely affected by excessive rainfall and high winds so it is advisable to have a good idea of all monthly weather records. These are available from meteorological offices. 

If the site is in an area prone to heavy downpours or monsoonal systems then it may be necessary to take precautions to avoid waterlogging of hydroponic beds. The site may have to be graded so that it gently slopes. A drainage trench at the end of the slope might be required to remove excess water. Alternatively, a more expensive underground drainage system may be needed. Excess rain may also dilute nutrient solutions and so concentrations will need to be monitored regularly.

Other climatic factors which will also have an effect on a hydroponic operation include:

Temperature extremes 
Frost & snow

All plants have an ideal temperature range they thrive in. Temperature can be manipulated in a greenhouse environment to ensure optimal plant growth but screens and windbreaks only provide limited control outside. Temperature is probably the single most limiting factor for outdoor systems. If you propose to grow a crop or crops which need a controlled temperature environment in your locality, then you will need to weigh up the added expense of greenhouse or other protective constructions.

In temperate climates, greenhouses and protective structures make it possible to grow warm season crops throughout the year, as well as tropical and subtropical species - provided that warm temperatures can be maintained through materials and design, or heating. In tropical and subtropical climates it may be possible to grow warm and cool season temperate crops provided that temperatures can be kept down.  

Frost and Snow
The likelihood of extreme conditions such as frost and snow will greatly restrict the types of crops which can be grown outdoors. In areas prone to these types of conditions there may be no option but to use greenhouse systems. In other cases it may be possible to grow a limited number of winter crops during severe conditions. 

Humidity has a major influence on the spread of diseases in plants as well as plant growth. If atmospheric humidity is low then more water is lost from plants through transpiration. When humidity is high plants are more susceptible to diseases, especially fungal infections. 

If your proposed site is in an inner city or industrial area, then it is likely that reduced light will inhibit plant growth. Therefore you will need to consider the possibility of artificial lighting and the costs of purchasing, maintaining and running a lighting system.   It is far preferable to choose a site with no or little shading issues than it is to invest in the ongoing expense of artificial lighting.

Depending on the location dust can be a considerable problem. This can be particularly so in arid climates, sandy locales, or in areas where there is heavy traffic. Dust can cover leaves and fruits of plants. If the stomata of leaves are clogged with dust then the plant finds it more difficult to transpire and this reduces the effectiveness of its metabolism. Dust also poses a serious health concern in that it can harbour pathogenic organisms which can infect the plants. Screens and windbreaks may be used to reduce the impact of dust and, if possible, the hydroponic operation should be situated away from the direction in which the dust usually blows.

In areas prone to strong winds it will be necessary to use screens or windbreaks to shelter outdoor crops since whole crops can be decimated within hours. It may be possible to select a site which is protected by a natural windbreak such as a forest or hillside. Alternatively, covered protection may be the only option. In coastal sites slat winds can also be problematic and again call for crop protection. 


Although as outlined in lesson 1, hydroponic crops require less water per plant than soil grown crops, they still require a constant supply of moisture at all times. Like other plants, if they are deprived of moisture for even a short period they may reach permanent wilting point and die. It is therefore essential that a constant supply of water can be assured and that the water requirement per day for the entire operation is estimated before construction of any greenhouse structure. 

Water may be provided through various means e.g. mains water, underground bores, wells, streams, rivers, dams, or rainwater collection tanks. The important considerations are that sufficient volumes of water are available, and that the water quality is good enough to use.  It is vital that a complete water analysis is carried out by an agricultural lab before any site is considered for a hydroponic set up.  Even town supply water may not be suitable for some hydroponic crops and may require additional, expensive treatment if it is to be used.  Determining if the water supply is of suitable quality is important as it may be more economic to select another site with a better water supply than have the cost of treating an unsuitable water source.   
If there is no surface water and mains water is unavailable then it is as well to test any prospective site for the presence of underground water before ruling it out. Water storage tanks to collect runoff from greenhouses and buildings could be used to supplement any underground supply.