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New Video: Five Tips on Hydroponic Substrates

In a new video produced by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension (UF/IFAS), Dr. Paul Fisher interviews Shawn Mallen from A.M.A. Horticulture to discuss the different commercial substrates most commonly used in hydroponic production, the importance of air porosity, and compaction of substrates.

Five Hydroponic Substrate Tips

  1. The most common commercial hydroponic substrates are coconut coir and stonewool, but there are other options especially for specialty crops such as strawberries
  2. Within each type of substrate, you can select different particle sizes (coir) or densities (stonewool) that impact air/water relations
  3. Avoid compacting your substrate and driving out air needed for healthy root growth
  4. There is no right or wrong substrate, but choose an option that fits your growing system, crop, climate and growing strategy
  5. Changing your substrate has many impacts on irrigation, fertilizer, automation, and ultimately on yields and profit. Run trials (varying only one factor at a time) before making a big change.

Always Learning, Always Growing

“Things are always changing in our industry, and this is especially true in hydroponics, where science plays a vital role in successful growing,” says Shawn, A.M.A.’s manager of hydroponics and manufacturing. “The work being done in institutions like UF/IFAS is really important to help growers continue pushing boundaries and optimize their practices in hydroponic growing. We are always learning here at A.M.A. and we think it’s part of our DNA to equally grow our knowledge and share our knowledge, to make sure our growers get the best solutions.”

This video is part of a UF/IFAS series called “Five Tips for Horticulture” featured on the Greenhouse Training Online channel. This educational channel posts short, science-based videos about research at the Institute and interviews with university and industry experts on technical topics pertaining to horticulture, such as growing media, vermicompost and running successful trials. The channel is sponsored by the Floriculture Research Alliance (floriculturealliance.org), of which A.M.A. is a proud member.

Growers interested in learning more about hydroponics are invited to take the UF IFAS Extension online course for growers on Hydroponic Vegetable Production beginning on November 9 (https://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/training/) in English and Spanish.

About the UF/IFAS

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.