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Go for Smart Farming for a Tomato Revolution!

Catch up to the future of farming with hydroponic tomato cultivation. The article will provide step by step guide to do tomato cultivation

Kanika Dhamija
Tomato Farming
Tomato Farming

Let's get straight to the purpose and speak numbers. Tomato hydroponic farming capital cost, per acre, every 5 years is Rs 30.5 lakh. Operational costs per year are approximate Rs.9 lakh, and revenue generally averages around 33.5 lakh. Sound like a good idea, right? Let’s get started!

Allow us to lead, and take you through the process of growing hydroponic tomatoes – and witness nature’s miracle!

Pick a hydroponic farming system

There is six basic types hydroponic farming system, which can be used for soilless hydroponic farming at a commercial level. The most effective hydroponic systems to grow tomatoes are Wick Systems, Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), Drip Systems, Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain system), Deep Water Culture (DWC) and Aeroponics System. Choose a system that most closely fits your pocket and area handiness.

Go for seeds, avoid the saplings

Tomatoes are quite rough-and-tough plants that respond very well to hydroponic growing methods. Start by allowing the tomato seeds to sprout in a tray filled with a growing medium. Rockwool cubes are an excellent choice for growing material. However coconut coir or perlite may be used.

Soak the growing medium with water (pH of 4.5). Keep the seeds covered in a moist, damp area, between 20-25°C. Tomato seeds typically sprout within 10-14 days, and once they sprout immediately transfer them into a hydroponic system with adequate light.

Ensure the ideal temperature

Tomatoes grow well in temperatures between 18-25°C throughout the day, however, in the dark, they need a lower temperature, ideally between 12-18°C, for optimum growth. To maintain the temperatures, making a grow tent and keeping the plants in is a smart idea. Grow tents create an enclosed area where it is easier to manage numerous environmental factors.

Get proper lighting

Light is a vital protein for tomatoes. All tomatoes need strong light for at least 8 to 10 hours per day for optimum growth. Some high-yield varieties fruit higher with up to 18 hours of light. Keep in mind that when the tomatoes fully mature, they additionally need around 8 hours of darkness for respiration. Overall, fruit production is often maximized by giving 16 hours of light. LED grow lights are a popular choice to grow hydroponic tomatoes.

Give special attention to nutrient, pH, and EC requirements

Tomatoes would like each, macro as well as microelements to grow. The macronutrients, which include phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, carbon, hydrogen, magnesium, oxygen, and sulfur, are required in higher quantities.

Micronutrients such as boron, copper, manganese, chlorine, and molybdenum are required in smaller quantities. The plants thrive in a slightly higher than average pH of around 5.8-6.3, while the EC levels need to be maintained between 2.0-3.5 milliohms. All this may be with success achieved by guaranteeing the proper mixture of nutrients.

Get ready for harvest

Ideally, tomato flavor is the ultimate test for a good quality hydroponic tomato. However, factors like texture, color, and shelf-life are vital indicators. Make it a point to test the products before harvesting and sending them out to the market.

Getting the numbers right - Average yield

The average yield for hydroponic tomatoes is 19 kg per square foot per year. The yield may vary with a lack of proper nutrients or care.

Try this out!

Step by step guide to growing tomatoes using Ebb & Flow hydroponic system

You will require:

  • Large reservoir tray, ideally with a covering lid

  • Small tray to hold the plants above the reservoir

  • Container pots or net pots for individual plants

  • Submersible pump

  • Timer

  • PVC tube - one-half inch, one large

  • Growing medium - Rockwool, coconut coir, or perlite

  • Hydroponic nutrient mixture

Steps Involved:

  • Fill the reservoir with water. Each tomato plant desires a minimum of 10 L of water.

  • Make holes within the lid to permit the tubes.

  • Fix the smaller tray on top of the reservoir. For ebb and flow, you would need a tray with tall sides.

  • Install the water pump within the reservoir. The pump ought to be powerful enough to pump water up to the grow tray and flood it.

  • Connect the tray, pump, and reservoir using the two tubes. You’ll need to drill two holes at the bottom of the tray.

  • Use the thinner tube for the water inlet, and connect it to the pump. In the grow tray, the larger tube should protrude to the flooding limit.

  • To avoid clogging the system, install filters on both inflow and outflow tubes.

  • Run the flooding system to check if everything works.

  • Place the saplings/plants within the growing medium inside individual pots. Place these pots evenly spaced in the grow tray.

  • Add the recommended concentration of nutrients to the water.

  • Connect the pump to the timer. In the beginning, try running the motor for 30 minutes, every two hours. Don’t leave the plants without water for more than 2.5 hours.

  • For indoor hydroponic systems, install adequately LED lights at correct distances. Confirm that the plants get a good 14-18 hours of light, especially when fruits start to appear.

  • As the tomatoes ripen, their water and nutrient necessities can increase.

  • Check the water for pH and EC levels, daily. Replace the water + nutrients mix a minimum of once every week.

  • If growing indeterminate tomato plants, prune them frequently. Use a stake to keep the plants upright and above the water and growing medium.

  • The time to harvest varies depending on the tomato variety. Some tomatoes bear fruit within 50 days, whereas some could take as long as 100 days after planting for the first harvest.

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