Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hydroponics

This method is where you grow the plants in a nutrient rich water solution, which is given directly to, and absorbed by the bare roots. hydroPlants grown in hydro systems soon develop strong healthy roots, have easy access to oxygen, water and nutrient, and therefore overfeeding and underfeeding is prevented. Plants grow a lot faster with this method than they would in a normal soil bed. They are also healthier, making them more resistant to pests and diseases. There are no soil-borne diseases, no weeding and the plants can be placed very close to one another, this will allow for a large amount of chillis to be produced in a small amount of space. In this method of growing the soil is replaced with an inert substance such as vermiculite, perlite, clay granules, gravel, coir fibre, or cocoa bean shell, which is there just to support the plant. Nutrients, mostly combinations of nitrogen, potassium and phosphate with other trace elements such as calcium, magnesium and sulphates, are delivered as a solution directly to plant roots. Hydro systems can be active or passive, (i) active systems are where the water and nutrient is automatically pumped from a reservoir, around the plant roots. Nutrient film technique (NFT) is where the plants grow in a plastic tray which is gently sloping, a constant flow of nutrients is maintained along the tray, and the roots grow into dense mats, with a thin film of nutrient passing over them, the nutrients the plant does not take, is drained back into the reservoir, and circulated around again via a small submersible pump, the tank is then periodically changed with fresh nutrient solution. In an Ebb & Flood system growtips14nutrient solution is pumped at pre-set intervals from the reservoir over the roots and back into the reservoir over and over again. (ii) Passive systems are much simpler, your plant is placed in a container (pot or bag) of growing medium, and the container stands in a tray of nutrient solution. For more information on the system we used,which can be seen on the 2004 growing diary visit, www.greenhousesensation.co.uk or for a more overall picture of complete hydroponic with a range of systems visit, www.greenshorticulture.co.uk. http://www.chillisgalore.co.uk

Planning Chili Fertigation

Start Seedling


   I am using Small Heated Propagator

Fertigation Controllers

Fertigation is the irrigation of plants with nutrient enriched (and possibly pH corrected) water. A full fertigation controller is thus a combination of a multi-station horticultural irrigation controller and a fertiliser injection system. A modern fertigation controller like the NutriDose II range will normally have a variety of trigger sources to start irrigations including time-of-day programmed irrigations, solar integration triggering possibly with the ability to modify the integration rate to compensate for humidity, temperature and wind speed. The solar integrator (with temperature and humidity modifiers) will automatically increase the frequency of irrigations in sunny, hot dry weather and reduce it in dull, cool, damp weather. A rain override is useful for outdoor crops as it can be set to zero the integration counter if rain exceeds a specified level. These controllers may generate a single irrigation trigger and then sequentially irrigate all stations in turn. The Autogrow controllers can be set to do this or can be put into multi-trigger mode where each station has its own trigger point and when reached only that station will be irrigated. This allows crops with differing watering requirements to be serviced by a common controller. In fact with the NutriDose IIb or NutriDose IIi it would be possible to mix inside with outside crops and crops requiring watering every half hour with those that need watering once per week. Of-course each station can be set to have a different EC and may even be fed with a mixture having a different recipe. It is important that the solar integrator, fertiliser injection and irrigation functions are all within the same controller as this provides the highest level of functionality. For example, if a separate solar integrator was used, the manual triggering of an irrigation will not be “seen” by the solar integrator and so its counter will continue counting. The solar integrator will not have its counter cleared and may trigger a second irrigation immediately after the manual one. In the case of an integrated controller this will automatically be taken care of. Using an electronic controller employing feedback control allows a number of different methods to be used to actually get the fertiliser into the pipe. The first and most obvious method uses variable speed injection pumps to inject direct into the line. This becomes very expensive as soon as larger flow rates are required. The second method uses venturi eductors to entrain the nutrient and pH stock solutions into the flow of water through them. To adjust the rate of nutrient uptake it is common to use simple on/off solenoid valves that continuously pulse on and off. By varying the ratio of the on time to the off time good proportional control can be achieved. This method is usually called “pulse width modulated” (PWM) control. To work reliably the venturis need a significant pressure drop across them and this normally leads to an auxiliary pump being required to develop this. This is a simple robust method but does require high pressure sensors in the line and also the system design must ensure satisfactory mixing occurs before the concentrated stock solutions are allowed to mix with each other. If they meet in concentrated form a chemical reaction can take place which will change the formulation of the fertiliser. In addition, the resulting precipitation can cause solids that can later block drippers and be a general nuisance. The last method uses an in-line turbulent mixing vessel into which the fertiliser stock solutions are dosed. This method provides excellent mixing and has the advantage that the dosing and sensing is done at ambient pressure. Typically a drum of one-to-two hundred litres capacity is used and is filled at the same rate as it is being emptied. The NutriDose IIi controller can be used in all three of the above methods, has a built-in solar integrator counters, irrigation control and interface to a PC to provide a user friendly interface, remote alarms and data and event logging. It can be expanded up to a maximum of thirty irrigation stations which may be a mixture of inside and outdoor growing areas. The NutriDose IIb controller performs a similar function but is a batching controller. Instead of adding the fertiliser on-the-fly during an irrigation, a batching controller mixes a complete batch of fertilised water into a batching tank which is then used for irrigation. This is a simpler process and tends to be a little lower in cost and is also easier to set up to get really high accuracy. In other respects it is the same as the NutriDose IIi and can be used in multiple batch – multiple trigger, single batch – single trigger, single batch – multiple trigger and multiple batch – single trigger modes. The down side of batched irrigation is that time is used in mixing the batches and in a large installation or one where very frequent irrigations are required, it is possible to run out of time and triggers may start to queue up and causing excessive delays in the irrigation of some stations. Link : http://www.autogrow.com/index.html

Fertigation Fundamentals

Delivering fertilizer through irrigation systems (known as fertigation) has been used extensively in agriculture for the past 30 years and has gained wide acceptance in the golf course industry over the last decade. Now FertiGator's innovative engineering brings the benefits of fertigation to all types of properties: Benefits
  • Save Time & Money - Automated and efficient, the FertiGator will reduce the amount of time, money and materials it takes to keep your property looking its best
  • Create Beautiful Grass & Plants - Your grass, plants and flowers will develop healthier root structures, need less water, and will be more resistant to disease and insect infestation.
  • Better for the Environment - Fertigation delivers only what the plant can use and absorb so there's less run off available to affect streams, rivers and ground water.
Link : http://www.fertigator.com/overview.htm

The facts on fertigation

All you need to know about fertigation in a 10 question & answer session By: Jason Stahl Landscape Management

Fertigation has been used in agriculture for more than 40 years, but it's still a relatively new concept in the landscape industry. Therefore, some landscape professionals are still sketchy about what it is and how it can benefit their business. To clear up the issue, we posed 10 questions to Dave Cross, President of Fertigator, one of the leading fertigation companies in the United States. The following questions and answers will give you a good idea of how to make it work for you.

LM: What is fertigation? DC: Fertigation is the process of applying fertilizer through an automatic, in-ground irrigation system. Ideally, true fertigation is applying small, consistent amounts of fertilizer continuously through an irrigation system to achieve the ultimate benefit.

LM: How much does a landscape or lawn care pro have to invest to add this service?DC: The cost would run from $150 to $300 including all accessories on a residential account. On the low-end, you're getting some type of passive fertigation device that uses the irrigation system's flow to push the fertilizer into the line. On the high-end, you're getting an injection-type device that's electronically activated by a control mechanism that lets the injector know how much fertilizer to apply, and it can be varied by irrigation zone.

LM: How much can an installer expect to make by installing this type of system? DC: The potential profit is $150 to $300 per installation. But the real profit potential lies in the ability to sell the fertilizer needed on a continual basis to the customer. On a typical landscape, the profit potential for selling this fertilizer is $50 to $150 a year. You might sell the fertilizer for $100 and make $50, but you're only paying the cost of delivering it to the customer. Then either you or the customer refills the container.

LM: Is this service a better fit for the lawn care provider or landscape contractor? DC: The business that can benefit the most is a lawn care company that's already going to the property to provide fertilization on a regular basis. They already have a customer who wants that service, and they have the infrastructure built in to service those accounts regularly. They also have the route density, serving many customers in a small area.

LM: What would be the cost to the lawn care provider's client? DC: The range of installation price is $300 to $600. Some companies are installing these systems at a more reduced price, though, just to gain a customer that they can sell fertilizer to each year and get their money back through an ongoing revenue stream.

LM: Do you need any specialized training to install this system? DC: Anyone who has installed irrigation systems or other service systems won't need specialized training. But it's important to learn how to install the system properly.

LM: Is the system an easier sell to commercial or residential clients? DC: Residential customers are an easier sell because they're easier to access. You know who you need to communicate with to make the sale. In commercial accounts, the decision maker is harder to reach. Plus, residential customers are often looking for the next cool thing.

LM: What are the benefits to the landscape contractor? DC:This is new technology they can offer to the consumer that does a traditional service and applies that technology to give the consumer more benefit at lower cost. There's also an opportunity to save labor and therefore lower their cost to maintain these properties. You won't necessarily make less visits to the properties but you'll spend less time there.

LM: What are the benefits to the client? DC: The main one is agronomic. You take the human factor out and reduce the chance of misapplication and damaging a property. Fertigation results in a more consistent release of fertilizer that's ideal for plants, and 90 percent of it will get to the plants and not be washed away by heavy rain. Plus, it's safer and more environmentally friendly.

LM: Why isn't fertigation more successful or popular? DC: We believe it's because the consumer as a general rule doesn't know about it. But the consumer likes the idea based on the feedback we've received, and it registers as a good concept with them. Most companies don't develop a business model around it adequately to make it a thriving profit center; they just install a few systems.

Fertigation

Fertigation has been used in agriculture for more than 40 years, but it's still a relatively new concept in the landscape industry. Therefore, some landscape professionals are still sketchy about what it is and how it can benefit their business. Modernizing the farming activity is one of the ways to increase the productivity. Moreover, fertigation method is one of the effective alternatives with maximum outcomes. Fertigation is the application of fertilizers, soil amendments, or other water-soluble products through an irrigation system, one of the subparts of chemigation component. It can be described as one of the way of farming where fertilizers (in liquid form) are flown to the root of the plants trough the system of watering/irigation. The media that usually used here is Bio soil (dcmpronatura) and charcoal (ratio 50:50) with pH ranging from 6.5 to 6.8. The fertilization is given by following a specific formulation of fertilizers depending on the type of the plants. Fertigation is the process of applying fertilizer through an automatic, in-ground irrigation system. Ideally, true fertigation is applying small, consistent amounts of fertilizer continuously through an irrigation system to achieve the ultimate benefit. Fertigation is the best and most cost-effective way to deliver nutrients to grass, plants and ornamentals. "Spoon-feeding" grass and plants with small, precise amounts of fertilizer through an irrigation system, allows plants to thrive in a constantly nutrient-rich environment. Fertigation keeps the nutrients readily available to the plant resulting in strong root growth and better plant health. Heavy, infrequent granular fertilizer applications creates a temporary over-supply of nitrogen which will substantially over-feed your lawn, causing an unhealthy surge of lush top growth at the expense of root growth. The lawn gradually slows its growth and eventually becomes undernourished until the next fertilization. This "feast/famine cycle" is very stressful for plants, causes poor root development, and invites damage by insects, drought and disease. Advantages:
  • The fertigation system has it owns superiority compared to other conventional system:
  • Better for Plants.
  • Plants need less water
  • Plants have healthier roots
  • Thatch problems reduction makes plants more resistant to diseases & pests
  • Solve the problem of unarable land.
  • Increasing the outcome of unit per area.
  • Work force reduction lowering total cost spent on labour.
  • Producing better quality harvest
  • Reducing pesticide usage
  • Higher production rate, reaching as high as 700%
  • The plants’ maintenance is more systematic with slow, precise feeding and even application
  • Less run-off into streams and rivers, better for environment
  • Uses Less Fertilizer, increases microbial populations, better for soil health
Hindrance:
  • High starting funds.
  • High risk of loosing and the need of intensive labour force.
  • The needs of good quality water.
  • The needs for the right medium, temperature and humidit