Hydroponics is a production method where the plants are grown in a nutrient solution rather than in soil. The greenhouse and its environment control system are the same whether plants are grown conventionally or with hydroponics. The greenhouse needs to be suitable for production with adequate heat and ventilation and the ability to manage both, and clean glazing for maximum light. The difference between conventional production and growing hyroponically, is the support system for growing plants and the method of supplying water and nutrients.
Before investing in hydroponics, investigate hydroponic production. If possible, visit existing growers to see how systems are set up and research costs involved. Hydroponic systems have an increased initial investment added by the pumps, tanks, controls and support system. If supplemental lighting is included, a large additional cost will be incurred. Higher energy costs -pump and lighting operation increase the electricity costs. Also, more technical skill is needed. Begin small to learn about the various aspects of production.
Hydroponic systems can be built by adapting materials or by purchasing commercially available ready-made systems that provide everything you need, from instructional DVDs to the nutrient solution.
- Bartok J. Overview of Hydroponic Production.
- University of Massachusetts Extension: Building a Commercial Greenhouse.
- Greenhouse and Hydroponic Vegetable Resources, ATTRA.
- Cornell University:
Controlled Environment Agriculture: Includes grower handbooks on growing hydroponic lettuce, spinach and pak choi
Handbooks on Hydroponics
Hydroponics Video: YouTube Video
A Recipe for Hydroponic Success (by Neil Mattson and Cari Peters) This article covers nutrient solutions for greenhouse vegetables.
Tipburn of Hydroponic Lettuce, Neil Mattson, Cornell University
- University of Kentucky Extension. Hydroponic Lettuce Production.
- Texas A&M. Greenhouse Vegetable Hydroponics Production
- ATTRA Organic greenhouse vegetable production, small section on hydroponic production
- A list of practical resources on mostly small scale hydroponics with descriptions.
- Sutton J.C. and B. Grodzinski, Disease Management in Crops Produced in Recirculating Hydroponic Systems. Horticultural Science Division, Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Ontario.
- Using Organic Fertilizers in Hydroponics and Recirculating Culture (Kansas State University).
- Raudales R. Algae on the Nutient Solutions and Surfaces, UConn, e-Gro.
- Raudales R. and C. McGehee. Pythium Root Rot on Hydroponic Lettuce, UConn, e-Gro.
- Groen Agro Control, Grodan, Priva companies. Best Practice Guidelines for Greenhouse Water Management. Greenhouse Hydroponic cultivation in The Netherlands.
Growers in Massachusetts
Mass Live News article (Dec. 2010); "Interest in Hydroponics is Growing in the Pioneer Valley" Article about hydroponic growers
Greenhouse Crops and Floriculture Program
University of Massachusetts
2013, revised 2016