Bring de hose, Set up de water – How to Grow Your Hydroponics Hustle
Author: Nicole Chaitan-Kissoon
Hydroponics in all its forms essentially means growing plants with water and nutrient solutions instead of soil. To turn a farming hobby into a side hustle with hydroponics doesn’t take much. Your major money costs are going to be for materials to build your system, the nutrients and maybe the pump/irrigation system (depending on the type of hydroponics you choose). To get started with a few hundred plants, your numbers could look like this:
- Investment: anywhere from $3,000 to $11,000 (TTD)
- Potential revenue: you’d have the possibility of bringing in from a few thousand to $20,000 (TTD) of side-line revenue.
Not too bad, eh?
To start small, if you prefer some hands-on help, local courses are available (but not until 2022 – thanks, COVID) from people with decades of experience running, teaching and supplying hydroponics hobbyists, hustlers and honchos.
Once you’ve started, hands-on adjustments once a week at most and a daily check for leaks and to record nutrient levels and plant heights, etc. is all the labour you’ll need to put in.
Growing into a bona fide business that brings in big bucks 💰, though, will only happen if you invest and commit…even more.
Forget the small change…
Start thinking thousands of plants. That’s going to mean more money for a bigger system. To grow to a scale that supplies a market beyond just your neighbours, you’ll likely be looking at:
- at least $50K to get started
- then average $2,500 monthly for operating costs
You’ll want to invest in learning how to grow the harder crops. Lettuce is easiest but the market is flooded and even hydroponics farmers are price takers 😥. The bigger payday is in fruiting plants like tomatoes and melongene. Market day for those growers can bring as much as 20 times their operating cost every month.
Secure your position
Praedial larceny 👮 has been the bane of farming since before my nanny was planting peas in the hot sun. To be serious about hydroponics as a business, plan to protect your pipes and plants from the village pipers by investing in fences, security systems or a closed compound. The sad news is that that could cost more than the farming set up depending on how big you’re going. The good news is it would be capital expenditure, a one-off cost.
In all things – knowledge is power. Research bodies like this one in Texas and the International Society for Horticultural Science are continually publishing about advances, and comparisons of methods and new technologies in hydroponic farming.
We’ll leave you with a caveat – knowing is only HALF the battle. To make a go of farming with water, you’ll need some business skills – for example, you’ll have to write a business plan and provide proof of concept for your business model. Consider these the roots that will have your hydroponic biz grow nice and strong.
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