California is experiencing one of the worst droughts in the state's history. Most of the state's dwindling water resources go into the agriculture sector. Analysts are predicting that due to high water costs and lowering availability, this key part of California's economy will move elsewhere. Fortunately, there is a way that can grow more food, in less space, using 90% less water - hydroponics.
DID YOU KNOW
TOMATOES & LETTUCE
Tomatoes and lettuce are two crops that are commonly grown using hydroponic methods. Hydroponics is a system of growing plants in which plants are suspended in a nutrient-rich, water-based solution that recirculates to give the plants regular doses of the nutrients they need to grow.
Because of the nature of hydroponics, it can be a much more economical way to grow food, once the system has been set up. As mentioned earlier, hydroponics needs only 10% of the water that traditional agriculture requires. Additionally, because these plants are receiving precisely dosed levels of nutrients, they can be grown much more closely together than when grown in the ground. An acre of hydroponics can yield 2x the amount of produce when compared to soil-based agriculture and often much more!
Checkout Blue Grotto Farm in Florida that one of our beta testers works for. They use vertically stacking containers to maximize their yields on only a half acre of land. Imagine if this was a common site when driving in the central valley in California.
WHY WE NEED HYDROPONICS
Nature is becoming more volatile, farmers almanacs no longer are reliable, and yet most of the discussion is still centered around the causes of climate change or whether it exists at all and not around how we will deal with it. Solutions exist, but it takes a lot of momentum to get them going.
WHAT'S HOLDING HYDROPONICS BACK
That's why we created the OsmoBot, to lower that barrier to entry for hydroponic farmers, and make that startup expense, that much easier to swallow.
According to Howard Resh, author of Hydroponic Food Production, a hydroponic system can offer a Return on Investment of $10-$25 per square foot. That same number for a traditional lettuce farm - $0.08 per square foot.
A key part of the solution to our current and future drought(s) is clear. We just need to create the financial systems to make switching to hydroponics a no-brainer for farmers. I have my own thoughts on how to do that, but I would love to hear yours. Leave them in the comments.