Designing your facility shouldn't be a hassle.
Getting a growing operation up and running is a huge undertaking. From location, to resources, to design - you have to think about it all! One thing that shouldn't fall by the wayside is how you plan on watering and feeding your crops.
Planning to hand-water and maybe install a fertigation system down the road.
A fertigation system will save you tens of thousands of dollars a year on labor alone. When the pH or EC of the rootzone changes, it takes energy away from growth because the plant has to adjust the chemistry of its roots for optimal nutrient uptake in the new environment. Impatient workers hand-mixing nutrients and hand-watering plants creates daily changes in rootzone chemistry, stunting growth. Note: Increasing nutrient concentration and changing macronutrient ratios slowly as plants mature and bloom will not have the same negative impact as the daily changes that come with human error. A fertigation system will insure precise volume, pH, water distribution, and nutrient concentration every irrigation for maximum yield and consistent quality.
Putting a fertigation system in later will cost more and disrupt production. You also will be losing money on labor costs you could have saved from the beginning.
A great impression with your first crop is critical and consistency is paramount after that. By hand-watering you may not achieve either.
Not getting a private water quality report before blueprint design begins.
With well water, an up-to-date report is extremely important. Don’t assume your well water is the same as it was 2 years ago or even 2 months ago. Get it tested and you know what filtration and sanitation equipment you will need so you can ensure you have enough room for it all in your floor plan.
With municipal water, a report will be available on your local government’s website. This is helpful mostly for learning whether or not they are using chlorine or chloramines to sanitize the water on its way through the pipes. Chloramines do not evaporate and will wreak havoc on most reverse osmosis filters without a prefilter. If chloramines are being used, special filtration is extremely important. Generally a catalytic carbon filter will be placed before your RO system to filter chloramines fully and efficiently.
A private water report with a sample from your building is crucial. As water travels through the vast underground network of pipes to your facility it can pick up heavy-metals and minerals that aren't present in the public report. There may be a water softener installed in your building which adds salt and potassium. The amount of free chlorine is important in this report specifically as well. How far away you are from the treatment facility can greatly influence the amount of free chlorine in your water when it comes out of the tap. The further away from the treatment facility, the more chlorine will become oxidized as it comes into contact with biologicals. By the time it reaches you there may not be as much to filter out. Lastly, The hardness or alkalinity of your water will also come into play as you decide what filtration equipment to purchase.
You should have 2 samples analyzed. One immediately out of the tap, because that is water that has been sitting there and will have roughly the maximum load of metals and minerals that can be absorbed from the building's pipes and the service line. Another sample should be taken after the water has been running for 10-30 minutes. This is usually long enough to flush all the water that has been stagnant out of the building’s pipes and your service line (which comes off the main line to your building). This will give you an idea of your water quality from the main line and the health of your service line and building’s internal plumbing. You will use this information to make an informed decision on your filtration and sanitation equipment.
Waiting until your floor plan/blueprint is finalized or construction has started to speak with an irrigation designer.
Contractors will need to know how many water lines are going to each room as early as possible. They may start running wires and basic plumbing without leaving space for your irrigation, especially if they are not experienced with this type of job. It can result in severe delays when they get that information later in the game. Contractors are not fans of changing plans—they have schedules to keep and are often booked back to back. If they have to go over schedule or redo work it's going to cost you, big.
If you did not finalize your filtration, sanitation, and fertigation needs before the design is complete you may undersize your irrigation room. It is important to finalize the calculations for the amount of water you will need per day to feed all your plants before the floor plan is drawn up. This way you can size your tanks, sanitation, and fertigation system and make sure there is enough room for them in the floorplan. Ceiling height, hallway widths, door dimensions are all extremely important to know as it will limit the size of the storage tanks you can get into the building. If you are building from scratch get them in early so your options are not as limited by these factors. It can take over a month for a large storage tank to arrive on site and if it’s the wrong size you are stuck with the return shipping bill and a huge delay in your project.
Lastly, It may save you some money to have three phase power installed in your fertigation room. Variable frequency drives cost more than pumps that run on three phase power. Having the choice can save you money and headaches with the power company later on.
For more information regarding how Hanna Instruments can help you with your fertigation and irrigation needs, contact us, as firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-426-6287.