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 Registration is free but required Register Here Questions? Contact Lori Jolly-Brown ljollybr@purdue.edu, 765-494-1296 or Dr. Krishna Nemali, knemali@purdue.edu    


  Usually, growers use visual observations to monitor plant growth in greenhouses. If they detect slow plant growth, they adjust fertilizer supplied to plants or artificial light intensity or greenhouse temperature to increase growth. However, visual observations are not accurate. Moreover, it is challenging to manually observe plants when there are so many in a greenhouse. Cameras can be used to potentially detect plant growth deviations much better than human eye. Moreover, software can be developed to automate process to efficiently measure large number of plants and as needed. We are developing easy to download software and inexpensive camera systems to achieve this in greenhouses and vertical farms.  Purpose of this research is to develop image analysis technique to identify deviation in plant growth and make changes to growth environment early and without delay, thereby improving plant growth and quality


Greenhouse and Indoor Hydroponics Workshop

HYDROPONICS/INDOOR FARMING WORKSHOP September 5th 2018 Details and registration information coming soon!


Optimizing hydroponic production systems

For details, click the following link: Hort Congress Poster final 3



Vertical farming for beginner growers

Purdue University will develop research-based information for profitable indoor or vertical farming and train beginner farmers and entrepreneurs with best practices through effective extension education. Indoor farming involves growing leafy greens in vertically stacked layers in a building or warehouse to produce more food per unit area and make fresh food readily available to consumers in urban areas.  As energy cost for artificial lighting is a major operational cost and making observations on plants in different vertical layers that are above eye level can be challenging, the proposed research will develop best lighting sources and camera based monitoring of crop growth and nutritional requirements for increased productivity in indoor farming. In addition, the project will educate beginner farmers and entrepreneurs with best practices for profitable indoor farming using extension methods including workshops, field visits and conferences. Research: Two experiments will be conducted: Exp. 1: Little information exists on the suitability[Read More…]


Greenhouse Hydroponics

  Purdue University will develop research based and Indiana region-specific information for hydroponic lettuce production in greenhouses and transfer crop production and marketing knowledge to Indiana farmers through effective extension education. Specifically, (i) the proposed research will develop region-specific information by conducting research on the performance of different leaf lettuce varieties for increased productivity, quality and tolerance to temperature stress, measuring the benefits of using supplemental lighting in winter, and developing best nutrient management practices for hydroponic lettuce production in greenhouses and (ii) effectively disseminate and educate beginner and experienced growers using extension methods including workshops, field visits and conferences on best production and marketing strategies for increased year-round profits. Economic Research Service of USDA (2016) published that annual per capita consumption of lettuce in the US was 24.5 lb. with an average price of $0.45 per lb. in 2015.  With a population of approximately 6.6 million in Indiana, the[Read More…]



Energy efficient lighting strategies

A question many growers are asking is whether vertical farming of hydroponic lettuce production is profitable. Light requirement (daily light integral, DLI) of lettuce can vary from 15-20 mol/m2/day. Lettuce grown under low DLI has slow growth rate (i.e., takes longer to harvest) and appear poor in quality (elongated).  Current estimate is that energy costs for lighting alone can be 40 to 50% of return from sale of lettuce, making it challenging to make profits.  The sustainability of vertical farms will mainly depend on developing research based solutions for decreasing energy costs.  In our lab, we are testing different lighting systems, mostly LEDs, for their efficiencies, energy costs and effect on plant growth.  We are also building biofeedback systems that reduce overall energy (for lighting) consumption in vertical or indoor farms.


Nutrient management for hydroponic lettuce using imaging

Hydroponic lettuce is usually grown by continuously recycling the nutrient solution during production. As nutrients are absorbed by plant roots, stock solution is added to the recycled solution to maintain the electrical conductivity (EC) at a target level.  Because plants absorb nutrients from the solution at different rates, the recycled solutions accumulates elements which are slowly absorbed by the roots overtime.  Therefore, periodic draining of the recycled solution is recommended to avoid negative effects on plant growth and quality.  The research addresses two questions: (i) what is the effect of accumulated fertilizer salts on the plant growth of lettuce and (ii) is there a benefit of adjusting EC of the nutrient solution based on plant growth rate and water use as opposed to maintaining a target EC, and (iii) what is the best way to adjust nutrient solution concentration without impacting plant growth and with minimal environmental impact.  


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