Newark, New Jersey isn’t necessarily known for its agricultural prowess, but after a $30 million investment, it’s now the home of the largest vertical farm operation in the world.
Hydroponic farming has grown tremendously over the years and not just in Newark. Across the world, small and large garden setups have ditched soil and conventional farming and are focused on planting using this innovative new approach. With hydroponic gardening, farmers can actually plant four times the amount of crops in the same space compared to traditional soil farming.
On a nationwide and even global scale, hydroponic gardening will likely continue to grow and assist communities with their agricultural production needs. As far as small gardening projects are concerned, as long as gardeners are remaining diligent about preventing pests from ruining these hydroponic setups, this style of agriculture will work great for crop production and indoor farming.
According to Ocala.com, Tim Carpenter, owner of VertiGro, even patented a system of hydroponic vertical gardening that is now used in small residential operations as well as commercial agricultural projects.
“The whole thing was to save space and energy,” said Carpenter, who was named the Florida Association of County Agriculture Agents’ Marion County outstanding agriculturist in 2017.
With Carpenter’s approach, as well as similar hydroponic setups, though bugs aren’t as big of a problem compared with traditional farming, they can still be an issue if the gardener isn’t careful.
Without focusing on proper sanitation, a hydroponic garden can turn into a garbage bin. The health of a garden relies heavily on the sanitation habits of the farmer. Gardeners should keep all floors dry and clean; sterilize and clean all system equipment, tools, and containers; and dispose of plant waste right away. Without proper sanitation, a hydroponic garden will also be very welcoming to all kinds of damaging pests.
Here are some of the most common damaging pests that hydroponic gardeners need to beware of throughout their agricultural production process:
- Termites — Termites have been estimated to cause approximately $30 billion in damages to man-made structures including commercial and residential buildings and crop gardens of all sizes. Be sure to regularly inspect your home for signs of termites, including damage to wooden structures, droppings, and most areas.
- Fungus Gnats — These flying insects are easy to identify but their larvae are much smaller and can spread diseases throughout a hydroponic garden setup.
- Whiteflies — Whiteflies quickly attach to hydroponic crops and will feed on all the nutrients within and leave mottled spots (similar to termite damage). Unfortunately, hydroponic gardens rarely see only a few whiteflies, as these pests travel in large numbers.
- Leaf miners — These tiny maggots are rarely seen on hydroponic plants until the damage is already done. They feed on leaf tissue between the upper and lower portions of the leaf and the mine tunnels inside the affected plant. Afterwards, the leaf will look like someone intentionally drew squiggly lines across it.
- Thrips — Thrips are extremely destructive due to their small size and fast-moving abilities. They are either brown, tan, or (most commonly) green. These pests congregate near the veins of leaves within a hydroponic garden. It can be difficult to identify these pests, however, but the damage that they cause is unmistakable. Thrips will cause small metallic black specks on top of the leaves inside the garden.