While the amount, type, and sophistication of the equipment indoor farms use will vary a lot, there are plenty of tools that are necessary for any hydroponic indoor farm, regardless of how it operates.
In this article, you’ll learn about some tools that’ll make indoor farming easier.
pH Meter & Calibration Solution
Knowing the pH balance of your water and nutrient solution is extremely important.
The 16 nutrients plants need for growth are only simultaneously available for absorption at a specific pH range.
This range varies by plant, but generally, it’s between 5.5 and 6.5.
As a result, if the pH of your nutrient solution is too acidic or alkaline, the plants won’t be able to absorb all of the nutrients they need.
Use calibration solution to adjust the pH to the proper level, if needed.
An EC meter measures the electrical conductivity (EC) of liquids.
This measurement, given in parts per million (ppm), tells you how many dissolved salt-based nutrients are in the liquid.
It can’t determine quantities of specific nutrients, but it tells you if your plants are being overfed or underfed, which you can fix by adding more or less nutrient solution.
It’s also helpful to use an EC meter to test water quality before you use it in your hydroponic system.
Ideally, you want pure water, with a reading of zero, so that you have full control over what nutrients you’re giving your plants.
Reverse Osmosis Water Filter & Storage Tank
The quality of your tap water will depend heavily on the area you live in.
If you’re somewhere with particularly hard water, a reverse osmosis water filter will help get rid of unwanted chemicals and nutrients.
As stated earlier, your water should ideally be as pure as possible, so you have full control over the nutrients you’re giving the crops.
Additionally, you’ll need a storage tank to hold the filtered water.
This way, you have some that’s ready for use as soon as you need it.
PAR meters measure the intensity of light, both natural and artificial.
For indoor farms, this is especially helpful because you need to be sure that your plants are getting the right amount of light.
Too little or too much intensity will kill your crops.
A PAR meter will help you determine if they’re getting the right amount, allowing you to adjust your set up as needed.
A microscope could be the difference between life and death for your crops.
Unfortunately, some pests, like the russet mite, are so small that the human eye can’t see them. But this doesn’t mean they’re less harmful.
Left untreated, these pests can kill your crops.
Since the symptoms are similar to pH imbalance and nutrient deficiencies, you’ll need a microscope to diagnose the crop and ultimately find the right treatment.
Keeping your indoor farm clean is of the upmost importance.
Not only does it prove to be a better work environment, but it also helps prevent the spread of pests and diseases.
It’s important to keep both the inside and outside of your farm clean, along with any tools and surfaces you use.
Supplies you’ll want to have around at all times include:
- Broom and dustpan
- Mop, bucket, and floor cleaner
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Scrub brush
These labels can be made with a label maker, a piece of masking tape, or pretty much anything else you want to use.
The point is that you need something to help you keep track of your plants.
Labels should include information like what plant is growing in that spot and any important dates (like when you planted and transplanted it).
This will make keeping track of your crops a lot easier.
Logbooks (or Similar Product)
Similar to labels, logbooks help you stay organized.
You should take frequent notes about your crops’ physical appearances, such as height or symptoms that indicate a problem.
Having a dedicated notebook or software to track this lets you take the best care of your plants.
Plus, it lets you look back on how the plants have reacted to past treatments, helping you learn and adjust for the future.
And it helps you estimate potential harvest times, as you’ll be using your plants’ real growth rates.
Thermometer and Hygrometer
Thermometers and hygrometers will help you ensure your environment is right for your crops.
At the very least, you’ll want an air thermometer and a water thermometer.
With hydroponic systems, you need to make sure the nutrient water is the proper temperature, otherwise your plants will struggle to absorb it.
Additionally, you want to make sure the air temperature matches your crops’ preferred range.
A hygrometer measures humidity levels, which is important for preventing drowning and nutrient deficiencies.
Too much humidity will make it hard for plants to transpire, leading to problems with absorbing new water and nutrients.
Other Measuring Devices
There’s plenty more measuring tools you need for an indoor farm.
To name a few: a scale, measuring cups, pipettes, and a ruler.
Scales are helpful for weighing your harvests as well as the seeds you’re going to sow.
Use measuring cups for measuring nutrient solution and loose growing mediums (e.g. clay pebbles or coconut coir).
Pipettes allow you to make extra precise measurements.
For example, if a product has a small dosage, like 1 mL per gallon, a pipette is the only way you’ll be able to accurately measure that amount.
Finally, use a ruler to track your plant’s growth, including height, size of leaves, and width.
While these aren’t the only tools you’ll need for an indoor farm, they’ll definitely get you off to a good start and help you maintain the lives of your crops.
For more information on indoor farming, visit our website or call 602-753-3469.