Since the world we live is in a poor state of health, more and more people try to embrace a green behaviour. Being a greener is not easy but not that difficult either. As long as one has the right and necessary information, everything becomes so easy. This is how hydroponic farms have appeared.
Today, we’re talking about the hydroponic farms in New York City, more precisely about Gotham Greens. This is nothing else but a greenhouse, the first commercial-scale urban operation of this kind that can be found in U.S. Everything started in May when thousands of basil and lettuce seedlings have beend planted in a soil-free farming system.
Being supervised by a computer-controlled network of motors, sensors and farming , the produce is now expected to reach 100 tons. Gotham Greens intends to expand this high-tech operation and plans to use more roof-top space in this matter.
You may wonder how all this operation works. Well, it all starts with four types of lettuce and a variety of basil that are germinated in plastic bins. With the help of fibrous plugs, water is being drawn to the newly-created roots and thus help them grow properly.
In this matter, the greenhouse director, Jennifer Nelkin states that:
“Not just hydroponic growers use the plugs. A lot of farmers try and get a head-start at their soil farms, usually about six weeks before they can plant, by germinating seedlings in them.”
The seeds will start to sprout 10-14 days after they have been planted in the basalt plugs. Once this happens, they are placed in hydroponic gutters as you can see in the picture below. Water that is rich in nutrients is being moved through these gutters with the help of a network of drains and pumps.
In order for the roots to be supplied with ample oxygen, Gotham Greens makes use of the nutrient film technique. This circulates only a shallow layer of water. Climate and nutrients are under tight control and thus growers are able to control their products.
Nelkin says that:
“Many [hydroponic] tomatoes in the store, for example, taste like a swimming pool — and it’s too bad they’re giving hydroponics a bad name. It’s indicative of the grower, not the method. You can really manipulate produce with hydroponics. You can choose to grow a tasteless tomato full of water, or grow the best, sweetest, juiciest tomato you’ve ever had.”
In the picture below, you can see a bucket that Gotham Greens uses to store nutrient mixes. What do they need this for? Well, in order to grow, plants need phosphorus, oxygen, sulfur, carbon dioxide and of course, water. That’s why the buckets are needed.
So, when sensors detect low levels, the fluid is moved to a nearby lagoon with the help of pumps that are controlled by a computer. Thus, gutters are supplied with the solution. Gotham Greens makes use of a simple irrigation system using tap water.
In order for the plants to grow properly, the climate is very important besides what we’ve talked about so far. That’s why, Gotham Greens uses a weather station. This way, the outdoors conditions are monitored and the controller adjusts the climate so that the plants grow in an appropriate climate.
This climate controller can turn on the lights, open the vents, turn on the fans or the heater and so on.
We all know that plants are pests’ best friends. So, what does Gotham Greens do in this matter? Well, it certainly doesn’t use pesticides. The pests are attracted by colored plastic cards. These cards are sticky, so some of the pests stick to the card.
In the picture above, you can see an aphid. How do people at Gotham Green get rid of the pests or aphids? Well, once they find the pests on the card, they buy hordes of that pest’s predators and release them in the greenhouse. This costs more than pesticides but the benefits of this method will be noticed in the taste of the plants.
In what the electricity used at Gotham Greens is concerned, the solar panels installed in the case of this greenhouse have managed to supply it with 50% of the electricity required.
Gotham Greens now exists thanks to Jennifer Nelkin (in the left), Viraj Puri (in the right) and Eric Haley. They now spend all of their time to develop the greenhouse which they hope to provide good produce. As Puri says “the green aspects are a great bonus, but we want to be known for the quality of our products.”
Gotham Greens offers high quality products and the production of them cuts back carbon emissions and uses solar energy, which cannot be but great!
The Gotham Greens founders hope that their future line of crop would also include cucumbers, squash, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.