Hydroponic & Protected Ag Series

Starting a Successful Hydroponic Business

SFA SVAEC Logo 240x185Our core program in the Hydroponic & Protected Ag Series is the short course, called “Starting a Successful Hydroponic Business”.  It is a two day program offered twice a year in march since 2009 with nearly 70 attendees each year, mostly from Florida, but also from at least a dozen other states and five countries.  It features demonstrations and discussions of a variety of topics inside three greenhouses, a shade house, an outdoor production area and two tunnel structures at the SVAEC facility.  Topics covered include: planning the business and developing a marketing strategy, growing transplants, selecting hydroponic systems, soilless media choices, irrigation and fertilizer, managing pests, and the production of several traditional and non-traditional crops, including microgreens, herbs, flowers, and vegetables.

The short course is being offered in response to the tremendous increase in demand for information on hydroponics and controlled growing systems to provide high quality locally grown products.  It is aimed at those considering the venture or who have recently started a hydroponic business.  

The facility is one of the best in the Southeast for teaching hydroponic growing in an actual operating greenhouse setting.  It also includes an optional tour to one of the most successful and modern greenhouse hydroponic operations in Florida.

This program has also been modified to accomodate and target specific audiences such as Teachers and Educators.

Advanced Topics in Hydroponics

Marketing / Business

Economics of Hydroponic Vegetable Production, Marketing Techniques & Mind Your Business: Hydroponics for Profit. Topics included in this program in the past are:

  • Building Hydroponic Crop Budgets
  • Budgets for Planning and Decision Making
  • Estimating Profitability of Crop Systems
  • Assess and Manage Risks
  • Assessing your Farm's Food Safety Policies
  • Direct Marketing for the Hydroponic Grower
Irrigation / Nutrient Management

Irrigation System Design or Hydroponic Vegetable Nutrient Management. Some of the topics and hands-on lab sessions in this program in the past have included:

  • Know Your Well
  • Backflow Prevention Requirements
  • System Design Considerations
  • Proper Emitter Selection
  • Water Quality and Media Selections
  • How to Mix Your Own Fertilizer
  • Monitoring and Adjusting Nutrient Solutions
Integrated Pest Management

Topics covered within this program include:

  • Good Bug/Bad Bug Identification
  • Insect Scouting Methods
  • Greenhouse Exclusion Methods
  • Using Banker Plants

Microgreens 101

A hands-on workshop for the prospective commercial grower. Activities included in this program are:

  • Crop selection, Scheduling and Seeding
  • Maintenance and Care
  • Harvesting Techniques
  • Post-harvest Handling Safety
  • Marketing and Sales of the Final Product

Shade Program

Shade Production Workshops are also part of the Small Farms Academy curriculum since 2012. This program presented under different names, the latest one Hydroponic Veggies: Made in the Shade, has attracted many farmers and homeowners interested in learning about using open shade structures to extend their vegetable production season to attend. It features an operating shade production area and greenhouses, topics covered include:

    • Hydroponic Systems for Summer Growing
    • Shade Technologies
    • Selecting Appropriate Cultivars for Shade Production
    • Water and Nutrient Management
    • Business and Marketing Strategies

Right column heading

Students of the Hydroponic Short Course learning about the NFT System
Students learning about NFT systems.

Sponsors listed on the University of Florida IFAS Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center website do not imply university or unit endorsement of the entity or its products or services.