An In-Depth Look Into The Start-Up Costs Of A Hydroponic Farm Business
Hydroponic farming is steadily growing as a farming practice liked by professionals and beginners. The startup costs of starting a hydroponic farm business can vary depending on the size and location of your vertical farm. You can start small with one or two plants or build up to larger-scale operations. The smallest systems can be built for as little as $200, while commercial-scale operations can average cost tens of thousands of dollars.
The standout feature of this farming system is the use of water solvents to grow plants instead of the traditional use of soils. Hydroponic business is mainly practiced indoors where vegetables, flowers, and other greenery plants are cultivated for selling to individuals and commercials.
This farming method is popular due to its specific characteristics such as cultivating many plants in a confined area under a controlled environment.
This regulated farming environment is commonly practiced in greenhouses. A Modern greenhouse often utilizes less amount of water and light as compared to typical farming systems.
The hydroponic farm provides farmers with an easy and convenient approach to harvesting their produce, making it a preferred choice of farming for most learners. Hydroponic farming provides means through which one can contribute to society by increasing food production, improving nutrition and at the same time reducing pollution.
For this type of farming, pesticides are not utilized extensively, and it is more hygienic to practice than conventional soil farming. Hydroponic farming can be done anywhere as long as you have the right equipment and know how to do it. It does not require much space and you don’t need to worry about pests or diseases affecting your crop since they are grown in greenhouses.
Moreover, the local surroundings of any hydroponic farm profit from the environmentally friendly nature of the business.
Start-up Cost of a Hydroponic Farm
The cost analysis of starting a hydroponic farm is mainly calculated by summing up all the costs for setting up a greenhouse.
You can construct a greenhouse for your farm, or buy, or rent one. Greenhouses are designed in varying sizes. Hence, you should know the dimensions of your greenhouse based on the number of plants that you want to cultivate.
The biggest-sized greenhouse is about a thousand square feet, whereas a hundred square feet is the standard for small-scale greenhouse.
An equivalent of 11,000 USD is the estimated amount that can build a greenhouse, this amount can erect a standard and operational greenhouse for use.
However, the precise cost of a greenhouse is dependent on the size you have in mind, and the number of plants you intend to grow. For you to have a standard hydroponic farm, there are vital equipment and materials that you need to purchase.
Some of this equipment includes growing tunnels, UV filtration, water solvent, climate control systems, seeds, racks, nutrient reservoirs, lighting, and towers. It’s estimated that you might spend a few thousand dollars to acquire these materials.
Besides equipment and materials, there are some other essentials that are needed to start a hydroponic farm. You will need labor, utilities, a delivery vehicle, and probably insurance if you can afford one.
To start up a hydroponic farm, you will need about 500 US dollars for utilities such as water and electricity. Every hydroponic farm requires a sufficient amount of water and light to ensure the growth of the plants.
If you are employing labor, you have to plan how to pay your workers. Employees in a hydroponic farm generally make about 8 – 12 US dollars per hour.
Furthermore, as a start-up hydroponic farm, it is recommended that you set up an office for proper management. You will need chairs, a desk, a cash register, and an internet connection. You should also consider the fuel required by the delivery vehicle supplying plants to your customers. This should cost a couple of hundred dollars to maintain monthly.
For a start-up, you should also allocate adequate money for maintaining the farm’s equipment and operations. Primarily, this is an overview of what it costs to start a hydroponic farm.
Large-scale hydroponic farming is highly productive with several benefits. However, you can start up on a small scale and expand gradually into the large-scale farm business.
There are several factors to consider when planning to start up a hydroponic farm business. They include:
- Location of the Farm: This is a crucial factor when starting a hydroponic farm business, either private or commercial. The site of your hydroponic farm should have proximity to adequate water and electricity supply. Also, as a start-up, the farm in your location should have white walls for effective reflective action.
- Deciding your Hydroponic Method: Hydroponic farming has different techniques that can be applied, each with its merits and demerits. Most times, the choice of your method of hydroponic method depends on whether you are farming for personal or commercial purposes. For a beginner, the recommended hydroponic farming method is the Deep Water Cultivation. This is because the setup of the method is cost-effective and straightforward. When you intend to grow on a large scale, you can use the “Nutrient Film Method”.
- Kind of Plants to Cultivate: Basically, the type of plants grown in hydroponic farming are vegetables, greens, herbs, etc. These types of plants are easy and convenient to maintain, and they grow very fast. You can stick to planting vegetables and herbs for a start-up hydroponic farmer. It is also best to start with plants that need common nutrient requirements.
- Farm Lighting Conditions: Plants grown indoors require adequate light for their growth. Usually, each plant needs about 40 – 70 watts of light to sufficiently grow and reproduce. Certain hydroponic farms are designed with an inbuilt lighting system. However, you can use grow lights when there is none. You can choose to use LED, fluorescent, or High-intensity discharge lights. You should consider the pros and cons to identify the best choice for your plants.
- Maintaining Temperature: if your hydroponic farm is located indoors, you must regulate the temperature to be optimal for the plants to grow. For a beginner, you should be aware that when using grow lights, the temperature of the farm could exceed normal. You can use various ventilation system components such as fans and exhaust valves to control the high temperature. For a cold climate, a heater would suffice.
- Seed Germination: Before starting to plant in hydroponic farms, it is vital to allow the shooting of the seed of the plant you intend to cultivate. There are conventional methods of practicing seed germination that involves placing the seed on a moist surface of a paper towel.
- Planting Process: The next step succeeding the germination of the seed is planting the seed in a distinct growing medium. The growing medium often used for hydroponic plants is Rock wool and Coco coir.
- Quality of Water Supply: Ensure that the water distributed to the plants in your hydroponic farm contains the required amount of minerals needed for ample plant growth. For a hydroponic farm, the best PH level of water is 5.8 – 6.2. Avoid hard water on your farm due to the high content of minerals that are unbeneficial to the plants.
- Select the Appropriate Nutrients: Nutrients used in a hydroponic farm differs from one plant to another. In regards to fertilizers, hydroponic fertilizers are different from the usual fertilizers for a garden, whether it is in solid or liquid form. Endeavor to choose the nutrients produced for each plant.
- Identify your Market: For start-ups in hydroponic farming, whose intention is for commercial purposes. You must identify businesses and individuals interested in buying the kind of plants you are cultivating. This ensures that you have a target market ready to purchase your product.
Is there Money in Hydroponic Farms?
You may be wondering if there is any profit made from the hydroponic farm business. You can make a substantial amount of money from engaging in this type of farming.
Money is made in this business by selling plants, vegetables, flowers, grass, and other green items.
Some businesses and individuals are interested in buying produce from hydroponic farmers. Hence, you need to know your target market when starting a hydroponic farm business.
Your customers can be restaurants, supermarkets, schools, stores, universities, hotels, business centers, residential houses, etc.
Developing your target market increases the likelihood of making enough money from your hydroponic farm.
As an investor, you can invest your resources into the hydroponic farm business with certainty that profit can be realized in several ways.
As an amateur to start a hydroponic farm, you should begin with the basics and learn the various hydroponic farming methods by practicing indoors, at home, or office.
By doing this, you will have built a strong foundation and knowledge of this type of farming.
This also helps to understand the farm process and financial implications required to start up a hydroponic farm.
Learning the ropes of the hydroponic farm business on a small scale is safer. This way, you can bear the backlash for any error encountered.
Rather than starting on a large scale, errors might be too costly to amend.
For all who wish to practice a hydroponic farm business, we hope the guidelines outlined above will help provide you with the necessary knowledge to start your farm.