The research that this class conducted will be used by other classes to produce additional lettuce crops. The program will look at growing additional vegetables hydroponically.
The lettuce was placed in bags and given to teachers and others that assisted with the renovation of the greenhouse and the hydroponics project.
Before distributing the lettuce to anyone, the students completed a taste testing session. Celeste Frisbee, Warren County's Food Corps Service Member, Mr. Traylor and Mr. Conner assisted with the test.
The lettuce was moved to the final phase of the project. This picture shows the lettuce after several days in the growing channels.
Data was recorded each day and entered into a Google Docs form. The data was collected in a spreadsheet. Data entered included the ph, temperature and any observations that were relevant.
After two weeks of growing the plants in water, they were moved into the nursery trays. They will stay for 2 weeks before being moved into the finishing trays.
A special nutrient formula was purchased to grow lettuce in the system. A sample of our water was sent to California for testing and the nutrient formula was provided based on the nutrients found in the water sample. Once the nutrients are placed in the reservoir, tests are conducted to determine the water quality. Measuring nutrient solution strength is a relatively simple process. However, the electronic devices manufactured to achieve this task are quite sophisticated and use the latest microprocessor technology. To understand how these devices work, you have to know that pure water doesn’t conduct electricity. But as salts are dissolved into the pure water, electricity begins to be conducted. An electrical current will begin to flow when live electrodes are placed into the solution. The more salts that are dissolved, the stronger the salt solution and, correspondingly, the more electrical current that will flow. This current flow is connected to special electronic circuitry that allows the grower to determine the resultant strength of the nutrient solution.
The scale used to measure nutrient strength is electrical conductivity (EC) or conductivity factor (CF). The CF scale is most commonly used in hydroponics. It spans from 0 to more than 100 CF units. The part of the scale generally used by home hydroponic gardeners spans 0-100 CF units. The part of the scale generally used by commercial or large-scale hydroponic growers is from 2 to 4 CF. (strength for growing watercress and some fancy lettuce) to as high as approximately 35 CF for fruits, berries, and ornamental trees. Higher CF values are used by experienced commercial growers to obtain special plant responses and for many of the modern hybrid crops, such as tomatoes and some peppers. Most other plant types fall between these two figures and the majority is grown at 13-25 CF.
The hydroponics table frame was built and then placed in the greenhouse.The 612 NFT Production Unit is a high-performance hydroponic system that features 144 plant sites and 144 nursery sites that measures 6' wide by 12' long. Using the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), the 612 NFT Production System is designed for commercial growers who are just getting started with hydroponics and want to see just how easy it is to grow with resource efficient NFT system.