What are the costs involved in growing an aeroponic farm?


aeroponic farm

The price of an aeroponic grow system depends on its complexity, including the size, number of pumps, type of lighting, and the amount of mineral solution needed to feed your plants. The benefits of larger and more consistent yields and less maintenance generally outweigh the initial cost of a system over time. There are many small systems that DIY build for $ 200- $ 300 and you will get a good results when use. On the other hand, there are a few different turnkey solutions on the market that come with all the necessary components to start your aeroponic garden within hours of opening the box.

These systems take a lot of the guesswork out of growing with aeroponics and are priced between $ 400 and $ 1000 plus. However, the exact cost of aeroponics will depend on the size you have in mind and the number of plants you want to grow. To have a basic aeroponics farm, there are essential equipment and materials you will need to purchase. Some of this equipment includes grow medium, net pots, grow light timer, water pump cycle timer, tubes and nozzles, water pump, electric water pump, reservoirs, lighting, and nutrients and minerals. You would have to spend a few thousand dollars to buy these materials.

If you’re not sure whether you should start an aeroponics garden to grow fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables at home, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the costs associated with aeroponic systems, from initial costs to maintenance costs and much more.

Aeroponic housing – Parts and prices

Mоѕt DIY aeroponic ѕуѕtеmѕ аrе mаdе frоm thе ѕаmе соmmоn соmроnеntѕ. Systems are typically expanded by duplication, meaning a second, third and fourth unit is connected to the plumbing of the first. Here’s a rundown of the common parts you’ll need to become an aeroponic DIY master.

1. Reservoir

Two of the most common types of tanks are 5-gallon buckets and 25-30 gallon plastic containers. They will both hold the nutrient solution and a small water pump. Your reservoir should never be clean because UV light shining into it promotes algae growth, a very bad situation.

Any product used to grow food must be food grade BPA free and UV stabilized to prevent dangerous chemicals from entering your food, this is where you may want to spend a little more money to get a safe product to get. You also need a lid to keep your plants out of the water.

Food-safe tanks with a lid (usually sold separately) cost between $ 80 and $ 100 and house 6 to 10 plants. Regular Rubbermaid tubs cost less, closer to $ 30, and come in many different shapes and sizes.

2. Nozzle and Tubes

The delivery method from the pump to the roots can be done with PVC pipe or irrigation pipe with a spray nozzle, emitter, or atomizer at the end. This turns the water into a fine mist that helps the plants to absorb minerals and nutrients from the water.

Whichever delivery system you use should work as long as it is the right size. Orientation is another important aspect to consider. High-pressure systems have a single emitter specific to each plant underneath that is sprayed into the root ball.

90, 180, or 360-degree nozzles can be used to hit multiple plants when properly positioned. This option can be a bit more difficult to adjust properly and failure can risk the death of several plants at once.

Nozzles cost between $ 15 and $ 20 for a pack of 50. It’s a good thing to have spare parts on hand because they can break or you may need to add more or change your system’s spray pattern. Irrigation hoses are also inexpensive to purchase and come in rolls of varying lengths, so choose the size you leave the most for repairs and modifications to your system.

3. Water pump

Home aeroponic systems are usually small in size and use aquarium or fountain-like water pumps from 200 to 400 mph. The purpose of these small submersible pumps is to move and spray the nutrient solution on the roots of the plants, they are generally the only moving part in the whole system.

These pumps are completely sealed and are placed on the bottom of the tank where they operate underwater, secured with suction feet. Some features to consider when looking for a pump include the ability to connect hoses of different sizes to the outlet nozzle and a rotary knob to adjust the flow of the pump. Having a long power cord is useful too, as it must come out of the trash and into an electrical outlet.

The pumps can be purchased for $ 10- $ 50 on Amazon or at your local hardware store. They are easy to find and finding a replacement is never a problem.

4. Grow light timer

If you choose to grow indoors and need lighting, you will need a 24-hour timer to control the on/off cycle of your grow lights. The timer must be able to process the energy that the lamps will consume.

A typical cycle for vegetative growth such as greens and other plants before they start to flower is a 12/12 cycle, meaning the lights are on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours. For the fruiting and flowering of your plants, you will want to switch to a cycle that offers a longer on time, such as 8/16. A simple light timer costs between $ 8 and $ 20, but there are many more advanced timers that cost a lot more.

5. Water pump cycle timer

The water pump in your aeroponic system is controlled by a cycle timer. For this task, you need a timer that turns on for a few minutes, turns off for a few minutes, and repeats that pattern continuously 24/7.

I turn my system on and off at intervals of 5 minutes and 12 minutes, this will be a good starting point for many systems, but you will want to experiment to choose your own. Your timer plugs into a nearby outlet and a pump plug directly into the timer outlet.

There are many timers on the market, both digital and mechanical, that match an aeroponic system. I started with a simple unit like this one that repeats a short cycle timer with easy-to-use controls and legible time settings.

6. LED growing lights

There are limitless options when it comes to growing light price, shape, and specifications. The new full spectrum LEDs can mimic natural sunlight and deliver exactly the type of light that plants need to thrive while using less energy than traditional HPS lights.

Most home aeroponic systems will thrive under the full spectrum of T8 LED light. They are available in 2 and 4 lengths and are easy to assemble in rows of 2 or 4 to cover the size of your setup.

This type of lighting saves you money by reducing energy consumption and lasts 50,000 hours before it needs to be replaced. They are also supplied as a complete unit with integrated mounting brackets, wiring, and reflectors for greater efficiency.

7. Net pots

The net pots keep the root ball of your plants in the reservoir or air tower, depending on the type of system you buy or build. They are very simple plastic cups that allow the roots to escape and hang from the tank to water them.

A set of 25 3in. Lids cost $ 15 for cups with a lid. Lids prevent light from entering the reservoir of empty mesh cups and also prevent nutrient solution from flowing out of the reservoir. Having a few extra pots is good for replacing damaged pots and helping start new plants.

8. Growing medium

The last part of an aeroponic system you need is a growing medium. Many people, including me, choose to grow rock wool because it is porous enough for the roots to escape but strong enough not to break. Rock wool helps absorb minerals from the nutrient solution while preserving the oxygen pockets around the root ball for accelerated growth.

Other growing medium options include coconut coir, aggregates, and others. Whichever you choose, it should work, make sure it doesn’t get into the reservoir or your pump could get clogged. Water pipes or sprinklers cause problems with the operation of your system.

A 66-socket tray of Rockwool cubes costs $ 20 at Amazon. The 2 plugs fit very well in a 3 mesh cup.

growing medium

Operating costs of a domestic aeroponic system

There are some common running costs that an aeroponic system will have regardless of design. These costs will increase in proportion to the size of the system as more devices are needed and more energy and nutrient consumption is needed with the growth of the system.

Nutrients and Minerals

Nutrient levels must be properly monitored and maintained to get the best results from your system. These solutions contain the minerals that plants generally absorb from the soil, but in an aeroponic system, they are mixed in the water reservoir and delivered to the roots of the plants.

The high-performance aeroponic nutrients come in a concentrated 2 part liquid solution and are mixed in equal parts in the water reservoir at a ratio of 10-20ml per gallon depending on the brand. Buying in bulk or larger bottles is usually cheaper, but not always ideal for smaller systems.

A set of 1-gallon bottles of Nutrient Solution Parts A and B costs between $ 60 and $ 100 and can provide an aeroponic setup of 20 plants for up to 6 months. The common middle ground is about $ 15 a month to provide your garden with a good diet designed for healthy growth and high yields.

Lighting

Some aeroponic installations in the home will be able to operate in natural light from a window, but most will not. If you live in a place that is going through a winter season, the drop in daylight hours will require minimal supplemental lighting.

To grow vegetables and some varieties of dwarf tomatoes, using T8 LED bulbs costs less than ten cents per bulb per day. If you are using a device with 4 x 4 bulbs, consider spending $ 0.30 a day or $ 9 a month for 12 hours of daily use.

A single 4 LED array with 4 lights should accommodate 6-10 plants making it a good investment.

Electric water pump

The water pump in your aeroponic system delivers the water and nutrient mixture from the reservoir to the roots of your plants. Most systems use small submersible pumps that turn on and off throughout the day to provide your plants with the right mix of fluid and air for proper mineral absorption.

Small pumps cost between $ 1 and $ 2 a month to operate and are very reliable for long-term use.

Environmental Management

If you plan to use your aeroponic system indoors, there are no additional costs for heating and cooling outside of normal use. If your system is in a solar-powered greenhouse or porch, you will likely need some environmental checks to keep the room at a constant temperature.

The use of supplementary heating and cooling can be done with a passive system of sun-heated water tanks or vents along with the ceiling and floor that exhaust cool air at the bottom and warm air at the top. In more extreme climates, active systems such as electric or propane heaters and cooling systems may be required, but this is more typical of a commercial grow than a home system.

Water consumption

Water tariffs vary widely between cities and towns, making it difficult to bear the costs. However, one of the main benefits of aeroponic gardening is the reduction in water use by 90% or more compared to traditional in-ground gardening.

This is mainly because an aeroponic system is a closed-loop, meaning that water circulates continuously through the system and has very little evaporation. If water use is a factor in deciding which landscaping system is best for you, the answer clearly lies in aeroponics.

Troubleshooting of aeroponics

When growing with aeroponics, there is not much you can do manually to treat plant problems, as it all depends entirely on the system working properly. Any problem related to plant growth, the appearance of fungi on the foliage or roots of the plants, or even the burning of leaves, is due to a problem with your system.

The most common problems with aeroponics are:

Blocked nozzles

This is easy to overlook and it is also an easy fix. You see, with all the nutrients in the water being sprayed through the nozzles, those minerals will build up salt. Eventually, the salt molecules can build up in the pipes and reach the nozzles, where they block them.

A partial block in the nozzles will slow down the misting, while a total blocked of the nozzle will prevent the mist from spraying. Therefore, regularly check whether the nozzles are working properly.

If not, the only solution you need is isopropyl, also known as rubbing alcohol. Just rub it on the nozzles and it will go to work breaking down the salt molecules and unlocking the nozzles pretty quickly.

Pump failures

Know your worst nightmare. To put this in the simplest terms, don’t skimp on your water pump. Cheap pumps are really nasty with an aeroponic system because the life of your crops depends on this operation.

In the reserve tank, there is a humidity of almost 100% when the pump is running. The water pump is the reason for the high humidity. When that no longer works, the humidity drops quickly.

Combine the rapid drop in humidity combined with the fact that the pump cannot inject nutrients to the plant, starving the roots of the plant so there is a chance that your plants will die when the pump stop working. The life of your plants depends on how the water pump works. The moment it stops, a serious problem arises.

The only solution to problems with bacteria and fungi:

If you have researched the pros and cons of aeroponics, you will know that bacteria and fungi are of a higher probability than any other growing method. Well, that’s not true. The fact is that all the conditions that bacteria and fungi need to grow and spread quickly are present in the reservoir of an aeroponic system, warm temperatures and humid environment.

The truth is, there are no more bacteria or fungal problems with aeroponics other than one and that’s Pythium Root Rot. The only reason is that Pythium disease has a trail that can swim, which means that once it is in the reservoir, it will infect all of the water and spread on the plants with every spray of the rays.

There is only one thing you can do here and that is to prevent it because if you get water drenched in disease, your plants will have seen their day.

Hydrogen peroxide is the solution to solve all problems with bacteria and fungi and that’s because on contact it will eradicate it.

It also brings a new problem and that is the fact that it is so strong it can kill your plants, so while you try to protect your crops you risk killing them yourself.

You need to get the dilution part correct, which is even trickier than you might think because most hydrogen peroxide suppliers already dilute what they sell you.

Food grade is the best you can use as most of your plants are workable. That’s 35% and few manufacturers are certified to supply this high-quality hydrogen peroxide.

The recommended amount of peroxide to use in your reservoir is 3% per gallon for up to four days. If you work in liters, that is only 3 ml per 1 liter of water. Don’t forget to use the 3% peroxide solution. With this concentration, your plants will be protected against a variety of bacteria, pests, and viruses.

Should you buy or build your aeroponics system?

Small aeroponic systems can be built at home using inexpensive components purchased from online retailers or your local hardware store. There are many different DIY designs that vary in size, complexity, cost, and results.

Deciding to build your own system will be a rewarding experience, but it will likely involve some costly mistakes. That’s why I always recommend buying an aeroponics system like Tower Garden to get your feet wet in aeroponics.

Starting and maintaining an air garden with a proven system will help you hone your skills and get great results on your first try. Once you have found success and reaped the benefits of aeroponic gardening, you will want to build your own way and adapt it to your own custom system.

Ready to grow aeroponic systems

Buying a home aeroponic system will give you all the healthy benefits of growing your food at home while shortening the steep learning curve. A fully designed and tested system comes with everything you need to grow quickly, including easy-to-follow instructions and friendly customer support agents to ensure your success.

Tower garden

The tower garden is without a doubt the best of the best vertical aeroponic system on the market. Whether you choose Tower Garden Flex or Tower Garden Home, you will have healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables available all year round.

This vertical garden system can grow 20 or more plants in a 3 ‘x 3’ space, giving you an everlasting harvest without bending or weeding. At an affordable price of $ 62.50 / month for 12 months, it is cheaper than vegetables for a month at the grocery store.

The tower garden is made from UV stabilized food-grade plastic and is FDA approved. It can be set up in 30-60 minutes and comes with all the seeds and growing supplies you need to get your garden going. With only 1 moving part (the water pump), this easy-to-use space-saving tower is a no-brainer for both novice and experienced gardeners.

Conclusion

By starting your own aeroponic garden at home, you can grow fresh, healthy vegetables all year round. A home aeroponic system can cost anywhere from $ 200 to $ 1000 if you prefer to build your own or buy a Ready-to-Grow system and avoid the learning curve.

Lindsey Glenn

I've been learning about gardening since 2015, helping friends and family to grow their trees. I am passionate about trees and love sharing everything I learn about them.

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