What are the 4 factors driving hydroponic growing trends in 2016?

There are 4 main factors driving the hydroponic growing trends for 2016. Aside from the fact that hydroponic gardening and farming takes less water, less space and even can produce better tasting products, it can also be highlighted as an economic driver for many local communities ready to embrace the future needs of a growing population with a higher value placed on healthy food. In choosing the top 4 factors driving hydroponic growing trends, we’ve religiously read the local news feeds from across the US and through a combined 20 hours of intensive research and review of commonly reported statistics (and sometimes very boring statistics) we think the following 4 sets of articles help paint the future picture of hydroponics. Since our blog’s start in 2014, we have noticed that there are 4 particular factors that are driving the trends emerging into reality, which we believe will set the stage for the following few years and wanted to call them out along with 4 articles (and 1 video) that we hope you will enjoy and inspire you to support the hydroponics revolution (okay, so it might not be a revolution…yet.)
4 Factors Driving Hydroponic Growing Trends in 2016
(click for high resolution photo for sharing)
Just like we searched online to bring you the best hydroponic supply products in the hydroponic system shop section of our blog, we have also searched the web to find you our Top 4 rated “Best Hydroponic News Stories” that  help frame the future prediction for accelerated hydroponic growth in 2016.

NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF HYDROPONICS

The first factor we wanted to highlight is highlight and focus on the necessity for driving our food production from the fields to controlled environments to help grow 365 days per year. In a commercial setting; this type of trend is ranging from start-up companies retrofitting old retail store buildings (these are the places people went to shop before Amazon) with hydroponic and LED grow light systems to regionally focused companies buying old fashioned cargo containers that can host large vertical farms inside, which can then be easily shipped around the world to locations that may not have historically been able to produce food (think lettuce being grown in Alaska in January).

FRESH PRODUCE IN THE WINTER

We believe that with the global weather patterns changing and the more extreme types of weather (droughts in California where our lettuce used to be grown) happening around the world, it will only make sense to bring our food sources closer to the communities we live and place them in more controlled environments.  It costs a lot of money to ship a head of lettuce to Alaska in the winter and it probably will not show up that fresh, but if we had the capability to grow lettuce in an old retail store in Alaska – that would be amazing for those individuals to enjoy fresh lettuce in the winter. The following article, which was recently published in TechCrunch, quotes a another fantastic statistic that we think will set the stage for accelerated growth for the hydroponics industry. Particularly, the fact that the earth will house nearly 9.7 billion people by 2050, which will drive the demand for food production over the next 4 decades to be more than has ever been produced in the prior 10,000 (ten thousand… that is not a typo) years. This growth combined with transportation costs makes our current system very inefficient and not sustainable.  Enjoy the entire Necessity Is Driving Agricultural Innovation Indoors by Joshua Bateman article.

HOMEMADE HYDROPONIC SYSTEMS FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS

As you can see, commercial farms are beginning to embrace hydroponics and we will all feel the benefits at the grocery store in the future with fresher, cheaper and tastier food options all year long (think fresh organic blueberry pie in December.)  Now we want to also think about the individuals who want to grow their own sources of food on a balcony, in a basement or in their kitchen with the help from hydroponics and LED technology. Most folks who start to grow hydroponically either start with a store bought kit; however many folks that read our blog want to create their own homemade hydroponic system. We have found that the DIY and home hydroponic enthusiast is also benefitting from starting their homemade hydroponic system with much cheaper LED grow lights now available, affordable grow tents (check out these grow tents available on Amazon to compare and price) made by an ever increasing number of manufactures and simple hydroponic systems that can be made from components found online or at the local hardware and pet stores. When it comes to a backyard homemade hydroponic system, we think you will love the ideas documented in this University of Florida publication paper describing (with pictures for each stage) on how to build a low-cost vertical soilless system for growing vegetables and small fruit using… recycled plastic bottles! The team does a great job showing pictures for every stage for building the vertical “grow bottle” hydroponic system. [quote ]There is nothing you can’t grow hydroponically.[/quote]

CHEATING THE SEASONS – WITH TECHNOLOGY

Since many of our readers indicated that they would like to see more video, we have included a video recently produced along with this article on Fox5NY and embedded it below.  This Long Island vertical farm featured in the video is growing 6,000 heads of lettuce per week! Here are four of our favorite quotes from the video:

1. “Growing hydroponically allows farmers to cheat the seasons.” 2. “There is nothing you can’t grow hydroponically” 3. “Hydroponic farming in general has been on the upswing in general, particularly because of severe weather patterns” 4. “As with any kind of farming, it starts with a seed. There are also no pesticides.”

FARM IN A BOX: Shipping containers are reused for fresh produce

The previous 3 articles really help show how hydroponics makes sense (did you hear in the video embedded above how it takes 50 gallons of water to grow vs. only 1 to 2 gallons hydroponically) and is actually a much more efficient way to grow a food supply locally and all year long.  Technology also plays an important role now since the conditions can be controlled and monitored from the farmer’s smartphone anywhere in the world.

THE FUTURE OF HYDROPONICS

It is now easy to start thinking about the new possibilities for the future farm. The future farm could be on your roof, in the old retail store on the North side of town or even in your neighbor’s empty lot. There is also a new trend in future farming that is growing through the use of special LED grow lights that are much more affordable than historic grow light bulbs. Many systems even use solar power to generate the power needed to run these little LED grow lights that duplicate the sun’s rays. One company is now reusing those old cargo containers (remember when the economy was in full swing and we used these containers to transport products from China) as farms in a box. From Atlanta to Alaska, there are articles featuring these new kinds of farms that benefit from a controlled environment and can be customized for hot, cold and dark environments. This article from Redding.com highlights how containers plus the use of technology to control the environment will really produce some tasty results. Climate controls, automated lighting and irrigation systems, and mobile apps for monitoring and maintaining crops remotely also allow farmers to grow year-round with minimal oversight. We hope you enjoyed these 4 articles.  We believe they provide a great foundation and frame up the future need for embracing hydroponics as it will become an integral part of our food production whether it be accessed in the product sold in your grocery store, grown in your backyard or bought from your local farmer’s market. Happy Growing!