Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation, Cost and Profits

Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation (Pic Via commons.wikimedia.org)..
Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation (Pic Via commons.wikimedia.org)..

Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation:

The following content is all about Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation and Project Report (Cost and Profits).

Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation

Tomatoes in hydroponics are grown in a nutrient solution than using soil but a non-soil material as growing medium. These non-soil materials are used to support their root system and that can hold nutrients. Tomatoes that are grown hydroponically can taste as good as tomatoes grown through conventional farming methods in rich soils. Today’s farmers are growing tomatoes hydroponically. The advantages of growing tomatoes hydroponically include: they can be grown in a controlled environment, plants growth rate is optimum; faster and greater fruit yield, and less pest and disease attack. However, tomatoes growing in the hydroponic method is still not available to small farmers because it is labor intensive and with one-time expensive capital investment.

The Journey of Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation

Soilless farming started in the 1930s. There are three types of hydroponic system that helps growing of tomato plants. Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation was practiced in the ebb and flow method which is the original hydroponic method and this method of farming prevailed from 1930 to 1970. Allan Cooper in mid-70s changed the basic concept of hydroponic Tomato Cultivation by introducing nutrient film technique (NFT). Later with the introduction of drip irrigation of water and nutrient solution, this is currently a widely used method for growing tomatoes hydroponically.Though all types of currently used hydroponic methods are still not available to small farmers, the ideal hydroponic growing system with no flaws has yet to be developed.

Ebb and Flow System of Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation: This system is also called as flood and drain system. The growing bed consists of gravel or any other non-soil growing material as rooting medium. The growing bed is periodically flooded for short periods with nutrient solution pumped from the reservoir below the growing bed. With repeated use of the nutrient solution, root disease occurrence and insufficiencies of nutrient elements are some of its inefficiencies in this system. This system is most preferred at homes for domestic use than for commercial production. Being a closed system with water solution being cycled constantly, reconstitution of nutrients, filtering, and sterilization must be taken care. After each growing period, the nutrient solution must be replaced, growing medium must be thoroughly washed to remove root debris, accumulated precipitates in the gravel, and sterilization before reuse.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) of Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation: This system changed the actual hydroponic concept in that the growing medium used for root support is no longer essential and instead the roots of the tomato plants are let to hang in a flow of nutrient solution. The nutrient solution from the reservoir is made to pass through PVC pipes that will hold troughs of young plants filled with gravel or root growing medium placed at an equal distance. The nutrient solution drenches the hanging roots from the troughs giving enough nutrients to the tomato plant to grow healthily. This system is more suitable and many farmers opted for commercial growing of tomato hydroponically. However, the plants that are nearer to the supply end receive more nutrients compared to the plants at the bottom end. On a long-term duration, the roots block the nutrient solution by filling the troughs and the PVC pipe, the nutrient solution requires replacement or reconstitution upon more re-circulation.

Drip Irrigation in Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation: The more widely used in growing tomatoes hydroponically is drip systems. This system is ideal for commercial as well as for growth domestically.The nutrient solution is pumped from the reservoir to the young seedlings planted in NATO buckets or any other container filled with growing media. The nutrient solution is passed through tubing into each bucket that drips and drains while soaking the roots and growing media all the way to the bottom of the bucket.The nutrient solution collected at the bottom of the container flows downhill from the opening at the bottom all the way back to the reservoir.

Nutrient Solution Composition for Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation

In growing tomato hydroponic production systems, the nutrient solution is one of the most important determining factors of tomato quality and yield. Nutrient solution must have balanced macro and micronutrients in appropriate ratios and may differ from plant to plant requirement. To grow a tomato plant in hydroponic requires 13 elements; the most basic and major elements include nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, boron, molybdenum, zinc, chlorine, manganese, and copper. All these thirteen micro and macronutrients must be in proper concentration and ratio while the basic composition for Tomato Cultivation; Nitrogen 190 ppm, Phosphorous 40 ppm, Potassium 310 ppm, Calcium 150 ppm, and Magnesium 45 ppm.

Optimal Grow Conditions for Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation

Commercial Hydroponic Tomato Farming (Pic Via commons.wikimedia.org).
Commercial Hydroponic Tomato Farming (Pic Via commons.wikimedia.org).

Tomato Cultivation in a greenhouse or in an indoor environment through hydroponically has many advantages and one of the big benefits is controlling and manipulating every aspect of the growing process. Because of this, farmers can expect higher yield, high quality, fast growth, and nutritious tomatoes. Some of the conditions that play an important role in growing tomatoes hydroponically are:

Lighting: Tomatoes grow well in sunlight and require about seven hours of sunlight in a day. Under proper lighting, plants produce best quality and quantity yield. Under indoor conditions, LED lights are the best source; by controlling the amount of light, a farmer can expect a good harvest. Hydroponics is all about controlling the farming.

Temperature: Tomato plants prefer warm weather to grow. The ideal temperature to maintain in an indoor greenhouse tomato hydroponic farm is between 22° to 27° C in daytime and 15° to 19° C in the night time, though the plants can bear temperatures up to 38° C. Humidity of about 40 to 60% must be maintained.

Water and Aeration: Water is drawn by plants from the nutrient solution supplied through tubing and pipers coming from the reservoir. Water is free of any particles, dust, and soil but mixed with right amount of nutrients and minerals in it. The nutrient solution must be well aerated to have the right amount of oxygen levels by keeping air pumps inside the reservoir. Water pH level range 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal for the proper and healthy growth of tomato plant.

Growing Medium: In a hydroponic system, there are several ways to grow tomato and it will grow well in all of them. Drip irrigation system is a much better method for growing tomato commercially in hydroponics. This method requires growing medium that will support root system and can hold nutrients for the roots in the container. Materials that are porous, non-degradable such as rock wool, grow rock, coco coir, and river rock is some of the materials that can be used as growing medium in hydroponic Tomato Cultivation.

Cultivars / Suitable Varieties for Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation

Throughout the world, the tomato is one crop that is produced hydroponic.in large scale. With proper management techniques in all stages – seedling, flowering, and fruiting; and with a continual care, high yield of high-quality tomatoes can be produced. Many growers have maximized their yields and profits by choosing the right varieties to grow a hydroponic tomato. With extensive and selective plant crossed over generations, different types of improved hybrid tomato varieties are in the market for different types of growing systems. It is essential for growers to keep up with new cultivars that are produced with new research and development for maximum yield and profit. Following are the some of the recommended cultivars for hydroponic Tomato Cultivation:

Trust F1 Hybrid: This is a favorite variety of all commercial hydroponic tomato growers. The fruits are large in size with a meaty texture. Under good growing conditions, each fruit size on an average weighs between 200 to 300 grams. This variety can be grown as a long season (10 to 18 months) crop, and the fruits are firm in texture and with good shelf life.

Daniela F1 Hybrid: This variety also performs well under hydroponic Tomato Cultivation production. Though the fruit size may not be as big as trust variety and weigh between 120 to 150 grams. Some of the benefits of this variety include – excellent shelf life, fruits ripen uniformly, and with good fruit firmness.

ArkaRakshak: This variety is developed by Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR). This cultivar produces a high yield about 19 kg fruit per plant. They have a shelf life of about two weeks.

Some of the other varieties that can be grown hydroponically are Cherita F1, Brutus Hybrid beef tomato, Chiquita F1, Flavorita F1, Gardeners Delight Cherry Tomato, and Sweet 100 F1.

Set up for Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation Project

Drip Irrigation in Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation: There are many ways and types of hydroponic Tomato Cultivation systems in a greenhouse or indoor environment. In this set up we will install drip irrigation hydroponic Dutch bucket system also called Bato Bucket System. Depending on the available space size one can choose a number of buckets to use. Buckets of 5-gallon container are ideal for Tomato Cultivation. Depending on the number of buckets choose the reservoir size and water pump. PVC pipes, tubing, growing medium are some of the essential items to set up drip irrigation hydroponic.

Cut PVC pipes up to the table length or at a required length. Place the Bato buckets on the table with enough spacing between each bucket, Mark the drain placement spots on the PVC pipes and drill one-inch holes over the marked places. Fill each bucket with well washed and sterilized growing medium an inch below the top of the bucket. Place one end of the tubing in each bucket and another end fixed to the pump, place the pump in the reservoir.

Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation: Plant the best cultivar /variety of tomato seeds in a nursery tray filled with special growing material for hydroponic growing. Growing medium or materials should be washed and sterilized and thereafter before using must be soaked with pH value 5.5 water. Once the nursery beds are ready with planted seeds, place the seedlings under artificial light as soon as the plant’s sprout. The young seedlings are kept in the nursery beds till the roots start to protrude out. Move the young seedlings whose roots start protruding into the large buckets which usually take about 12 to 14 days. Plant the seedlings in the center of the bucket and adjust the nutrient solution carrying tubing near to the root system. Depending on the cultivar; staking and pruning must be undertaken. Some of the greenhouse keeps beehives for pollination. For greenhouses where there are no insects, manual pollination must be done. When the flower petals bend back, use a soft paintbrush to rub pollen-covered stamens and then gently touch the pistil on a daily basis.

Good Growing Conditions for Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation: Maintain a temperature between 18° to 26° C in the daytime and 13° to 20° C in the night time inside the greenhouse. An exhaust fan can be an added advantage to keep the temperature even throughout the greenhouse and the airflow helps to make pollination easier. Maintain the nutrient solution at the right ratios and reconstituting whenever required. Nutrient solution pH 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal. Placing of artificial grow lights helps the plants to grow well and stimulate ideal growing conditions throughout the plant growth period.

Advantages of Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation

  • The yield of tomato production will be 10 to 12 times higher than the conventional method of outdoor farming.
  • It is ideally suited for growing as well as the reliability of tomato crop increases under Hydroponic greenhouse growing conditions.
  • Year round production of tomato crop can be expected with a high yield.
  • It’s a pest and disease free environment.
  • Utilization of minerals, nutrients, and water is effective in the hydroponic system.

Economics or Cost and Profits of Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation Project Report

This project report provides hydroponic Tomato Cultivation package costs for young and potential entrepreneurs to project crop production and revenue. Soilless farming is a fast-growing segment in agriculture and this project report offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to enter this consistent tomato demand growing market. The current cost and revenue estimates are based on assumptions which are based on the experience of the farmers and may vary subject to location and pricing of materials. The purpose of this hydroponic tomato project plan is to assist young entrepreneurs in deciding how to proceed with a soilless farming business.

As the initial investment will be very high to set up a greenhouse which will be coming around Rs.2,200 per sq.ft. This project analysis is based on taking open building floors or cellar or abandon warehouse on a rental basis.

Area of the indoor gardening site1,000 sq.m
Number of Plants3,000
Drip Irrigation Hydroponic System @ 150 per Sq, mt1,50,000/-
ArkaRaksha Tomato Seeds2,100/-
Power Charges5,000/-
Nutrient Solution2,500/-
Growing Media (Coco Peat)60,000/-
Labor Charge per annum60,000/-
Total Yield per annum @ 18 kg per plant54,000
Wholesale Price @ 10 per kg5,40,000/-

One Time Investment Setup Cost = Rs. 1, 50,000/-

Investment Cost per Plant Grow Period = Rs. 1, 29,600/-

Gross Income per annum = Rs. 5, 40,000/-

Profit Income per annum on a one-fourth acre of Hydroponic Tomato Cultivation = Rs. 4, 10,400/-

Read about Hydroponic Farming.

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