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Growing Hydroponic Fodder

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CropKing Admin
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Hydroponic Fodder

Growing animal feedstock hydroponically is a relatively new trend even though the process has been around since the 1930s. There are several advantages to growing fodder hydroponically and some disadvantages which we will discuss later. The main advantage is that animals get feedstock that has no pesticides or herbicides, is of high quality, and uses very little water. The most common sprouting crop is barley, although alfalfa, clover, corn, cow peas, oats, sorghum, and wheat are possible grains to grow fodder. Sprouting increases fiber and breaks the grain down into more consumable parts.

Winter is Coming Make Sure Your Greenhouse Is Ready

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CropKing Admin
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over winter greenhouse

As the splash of tree color fades, leaves fall, and nature prepares for winter sleep, it is once again time to give consideration to the health of your greenhouse. With diminishing day length and declining daily temperatures checking greenhouse equipment can save you money and avoid potential losses. The following are considerations as the winter season approaches.

Blossom End Rot in Hydroponic Tomatoes and Peppers

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CropKing Admin
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blossom end rot

One of the more interesting problems that can occur in Tomato production is Blossom End Rot (BER). Neither a disease or pest issue, BER is a Calcium related disorder caused by environmental factors. Blossom end rot comprises of two main symptoms tip burn of the youngest leaves, and fruit tissue which looks water soaked and can become black and rotten as the fruit ripens over time. This is caused by a deficiency with Calcium uptake from the nutrient solution leading to the plant pulling the Calcium it needs from new tissue (younger leaves and new fruit).

Dutch Bucket Hydroponics

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CropKing Admin
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Dutch Buckets

NFT channels are designed for growing small leaf crops such as lettuce and small herbs, but growing larger plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and peppers in NFT channels is difficult, if not impossible. Large plants are usually more of a “long term” plant and need more root area than an NFT channels offers (they can also capsize the channels), so hydroponics (a lot of very large growers use hanging gutters and rockwool slabs. However for a smaller grower without all of the monitors and alarms, those rockwool slabs could dry out if the injection system failed in any way or was just not feeding enough to a growing plant. It is very difficult to “re-wet” it completely. Even if you flood it with water the water will tend to just wet area right around the roots. The water is looking for the easiest path and just flow along and around the roots. That is bad because as the plants continue to grow the roots will not branch out into the dry areas.

Seed Storage and Germination Recommendations

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CropKing Admin
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seed storage

Two common questions we have gotten at Crop King in the past from growers has been the life expectancy of various seeds and average germination time. There are three things you need to know:
How to properly store seeds.
Life expectancy of different properly stored seed.
Different crops can have very different germination times.

NFT Hydroponics

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CropKing Admin
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NFT Lettuce

CropKing offers channel with a slightly raised middle to help the film spread widely rather than concentrate plant roots into the middle of the channel. The CropKing channels have removable top caps to keep dirt from contaminating the nutrient film and to make it easier to clean the channels. These caps are punched with specially sized holes to enable a grower to precisely space crops for best growth. In addition, the covers prevent evaporation loses.

Cultivate15

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CropKing
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CropKing Booth at Cultivate15

Cultivate’15 is in the books and what a great show it was. This convention was aimed at growers, breeders and florists for edible and ornamental plants. With sessions providing information on the latest trends and tools available on the horticulture industry it was a great opportunity to network, search for new suppliers and gain valuable information.

What is Hydroponics?

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CropKing Admin
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Hydroponics is the art and science of growing without soil. The term was first coined by William F. Gericke around 1940 who took the word from the Greek. Gericke was among the first to grow plants on what he called "litter" suspended above a tank of water containing a nutrient solution.Since Gericke's time hydroponics has come a long way. Instead of Gericke's leaky wooden tanks, we now have leak-proof plastic tanks. Instead of Gericke's "litter," hydroponic growers use expanded clay balls, rockwool, perlite, sand or other support medium. In Gericke's day, he made his nutrient solution from manure with chemical additives, but today we can buy a concentrated nutrient solution optimized to suit the plants being grown.

CropKing at Cultivate

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CropKing Admin
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As you may know, the Cultivate'15 agricultural conference is fast approaching and with a record number of attendees in 2014, this year promises to be even more exciting. This is one the CropKing staff's favorite shows because it gives us a chance to not only meet many wonderful people interested in hydroponic vegetable production, but also the ability to interact with a wide variety of like minded professionals in a diverse range of horticultural fields . We are also very excited to use this opportunity to show off some of the new things that CropKing has been developing over the past year.

Nutrient Solution Management in Recirculating Systems

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CropKing Admin
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Hydroponic Bibb Lettuce

In recirculating hydroponic systems producing leafy crops, one of the main factors in the control of the grower is the frequency of tank changes (ie pumping out and turning over the recirculating solution). Since we generally manage the solution based on EC, we are assessing the total amount of solutes in the water. We don’t know the balance of each nutrient individually, so tank changes are carried out to try and maintain necessary levels of nutrients. Essentially, our goal is to change the nutrient solution often enough that we don’t have detrimental buildups of unused ions or depletions of important nutrients. Also keep in mind that different water sources have different background ion levels that can slow or speed up imbalances in the nutrient solution.
This tank change practice is really based on cost efficiency. There are nutrient solution management systems that have the ability to manage based on individual ions, but these are much higher cost than the typical systems installed in small to mid scale greenhouses. This hydroponics system cost savings comes at the price of more frequent tank changes that maintain a safe margin of nutrients in solution.

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