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Hydroponics or C.E.A. (Controlled Environment Agriculture) – is an industry that has enjoyed continuous growth throughout its history but in the past year we have seen a significant surge in growth on an international level and also in pockets of Africa. Surprisingly, Zimbabwe has stepped into the world of hydroponics and we are very proud to say that NFT Hydro play a significant part in the bringing food security back to this country.
That said, despite significant water shortages and a severe drought that plague most of South Africa, there is an underlying reluctance for to the uptake of Hydroponics in comparison to what is unfolding on an international level. However, younger South African growers buck this trend and take up rooftop farming and urban farming creating a new generation of growers that will hopefully over time contribute to the growth of the Hydroponics industry in a country that could significantly benefit from it.
A specialized media density and fine cell structure promote faster, stronger root growth. In addition, the fine cell structure and drainage properties provide uniform moisture and hydroponic nutrients throughout the media – whether you use overhead irrigation or sub-irrigation.
Best for (crops): lettuce, herbs and other vegetables
Succulent, slender yet packed with a powerful flavor punch, microgreens are increasingly becoming popular as a profitable hydroponic crop with just five days from seed to harvest for some species. The photo in this article is of Arugula Microgreens taken at 7 days from seeding.
Hydroponic microgreens are best grown on a thin mat or pad that holds the seed in place and retains some moisture for germination.
For the hobby grower, microgreens are an ideal crop – fast, productive that requires a small area of well-lit space, they can easily be grown on a warm, sunny windowsill or grown on a commercial scale. Their short shelf life makes them ideal for local markets and restaurants, as they are best used fresh within two or three days of harvest.
Meet Janik, an Urban Grower from the Western Cape, South Africa. He has set up his ‘Urban Farm’ on an open plot in among urban dwellings, with a shade net for protection, his NFT Hydro System and a burning passion for growing Hydroponically. He forms part of a world wide movement of Rooftop and Urban Growers.
Janik chose our 2:8 NFT System, being one of our most popular systems for trail and experimenting with Hydroponics. This 2:8 NFT system will produce 144 plants every 2 – 4 weeks or Janik can opt to amass plants for longer as living plants and simply harvest the leaves of his produce. Basil, Arugula, Coriander are among the most popular plants to keep as living plants.
Urban Growers are growing better food for their local communities around the globe. Many start farming for increased food security and access to fresh produce to supply shops & restaurants or with the view to grow into a commercial scale of Hydroponics.
Urban Growers, Like Janik is changing the food system, one small urban plot at a time.
They are a new generation of growers and they will grow anywhere. Lured by Agtech, we have a rising generation that does not depend on title deeds nor land to start growing, simply because urban dwellings and rooftops are their chosen growing ground. Even more astonishingly most of them have never grown anything before, but by the time they have made contact with us here at NFT Hydro they have been studying Hydroponics online for months and in some cases even years. We in turn support and train our growers to ensure they become skilled and experienced in growing Hydroponics.
Interestingly these passionate growers, regard their NFT Hydroponic Systems as movable assets and is not phased by not owning land, as they simply will pack up their Hydroponic equipment and rent another rooftop or a building. Their passion is for growing.
At the recent Agri Indaba, held here in Cape Town the over arching theme was Food Security of Africa. I wonder then why do we not harness the growing power of this new generation of Growers to contribute to Food Security in Africa?
Hydroponics is a good method of growing food where arable land is scarce, since food can be grown much more densely using a fraction of the land that is required to grow crops traditionally on large expanses of farmland. Hydroponics also allows for the growth of food year round in any climate, which is much more challenging to do in more temperate climates using traditional farming methods outdoors.
Another great thing about our hydroponic systems is that they are scalable. Our NFT systems can be built as large commercial farming systems to supply food to local populations, but also could be used on a smaller scale for restaurants, grocery stores, daycare centers, and even in homes to produce food.
NFT Hydro & Haygrove Tunnels hosted the Zambian Consulate earlier this week at Haygrove Farm in Elgin. Zambia requested a site visit to learn more about our business and growing Hydroponically in Greenhouses. Basil was tasted, coriander sampled, many questions asked and the view from Haygrove Farm was indulgently admired and photographed by our state visitors.
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