Growing hydroponic produce can be satisfying and financially rewarding, however starting off ill prepared or with an inadequate system can lead to disaster.
Some key points to consider before committing yourself:
1. Economic Prospects
Significantly influenced by business management skills and expertise.
Marketing - good income flow is the key to financial success.
Is return on capital better than "paper" investments? Is there extra reward for risk?
Is your working capital sufficient to -
- Survive until income starts flowing freely?
- Carry you through a crop failure with zero or low income?
- Wait for slow payments for sales?
- Purchase stocks of nutrients, packaging, critical spare parts?
- Provide possible extras like delivery vehicle, fork lift or backup generator?
NB. Inadequate working capital leads to financial disaster.
Accept greenhouse time demands -
- Seven days a week
- L-o-n-g working days, often exceeding 12 hours.
Can you cope with green hair, stained clothes and immovable grot under fingernails?
Are you comfortable with living on the job, probably as part of a small rural community?
Recognise restrictions on holidays and their timing to suit family commitments.
3. Multi-disciplinary skills
Do you possess expertise in business management, bookkeeping, marketing, labour recruiting, staff management, plumbing, mechanical repairs, electrical repairs, electronic repairs, boiler maintenance, etc. and maybe even a little horticultural knowledge….
or can you purchase these skills from others?
4. Location suitability
Sufficient sunshine hours, especially in winter and spring.
Adequate year round water supply.
Drainage for stormwater and nutrient runoff.
Ease of delivery to market.
5. Hired labour
Availability at times required.
Cost (don't forget add-ons like work cover and superannuation)
Special skills - electricians, plumbers, heater repairers - at call after hours.
Gather as much of this as possible before you commit yourself.
Talk to experienced growers.
Join the HFF, attend meetings.
Get information from as many different sources as possible.
7. Good luck! If you are still keen to find out more and want to find out what to look for in a hydroponic system click here.