Improved and more profitable hydroponics production of vegetables and herbs are expected in a few years if research plans push through. This we learned from Ed Roderick Cañuto, vice president of Ephrathah, a leisure farm in Badiangan, Iloilo.
Ephrathah Farm is the first beneficiary of a research project that developed a programmable dehydrator machine for making herbal tea funded with P4-million by PCAARRD, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology. The project was undertaken by scientists of Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT U).
Cañuto said that Ephrathah will be the first beneficiary again of the new research project on the automation of hydroponics growing system under greenhouse. He explained that PCAARRD has adopted a new strategy that it will only undertake a research project if there is a firm or company that will immediately adopt the developed technology.
Hydroponics is one production system that Ephrathah adopted last year. The present system, however, could be greatly improved if the control of pH (percent Hydrogen) and EC (electro conductivity) is automated. As is, the present system is productive enough though.
For instance, the farm has several production bays in a 400-square meter area. Each production bay that accommodates 360 plants can yield 20 kilos worth P4,200 in a growing period of 30 days. Every week, the farm harvests lettuce from 4 to 5 production bays worth P16,800 to P21,000. The lettuce fetches a premium price of P210 per kilo because it is very clean and no pesticide is applied.
By the way, culinary herbs are also grown in hydroponics at Ephrathah. The price is even better than lettuce because it is P60 per 40 grams. That would mean P1,500 per kilo. But, of course, herbs are not bought in large volumes.
If the planned automation is realized, production could be more efficient and that could result in better profits.