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How to Buy a Hydroponic Farm

It can be an intimidating experience to buy a hydroponic farm. For growers just getting started with a hydroponic farming operation, or those curious about the burgeoning industry, comparing information from various hydroponic sellers can be confusing.

This blog serves as a guide, assisting you by defining the key information you need to determine if buying a hydroponic farm will meet your needs.

First Steps

When you want to buy a hydroponic farm, you’ll have to answer a few questions:

  1. What is your budget and starting capital?
  2. What is your target market and how can you meet their needs?
  3. What type of hydroponic system is right for you?
  4. What options does your system need to meet your growing objectives?

In this blog, we’ll help you answer these questions, and provide you with a foundation to develop a successful hydroponic farming operation.

Prepare a Business Plan

Before you buy a hydroponic farm, it’s important to have a concrete business plan and identify funding opportunities. Without these, your hydroponic operation is asking for complications. To develop a business plan, you need to have a solid understanding of your company’s operational structure, its unique value proposition, and the potential complications you may encounter.

Having a solid backing of data that demonstrates the viability of your business is important. This is true not only when applying for financial assistance in the form of grants or loans, but also for your own goalsetting and understanding of market conditions.

When you’re starting a hydroponic farming operation, having a plan that demonstrates how your business with find a path to profitability is key. Estimate a timeline that helps you visualize how long it’ll take to pay off the initial cost of your container farm system.

Lettuce growing in a hydroponic shipping container farm.
Lettuce is a commonly grown crop for hydroponic farms. Not only is it relatively easy to grow, thriving in hydroponic conditions, but it’s also a crop that has a wide appeal around the world, which makes it easier for growers to sell.

Identify Your Farm’s Unique Value Proposition

Farming is a market with a lot of producers competing for consumers’ dollars. One of the first things you need to nail down as a hydroponic farm operator is what you offer that’s unique for your market.

That’s why it’s especially important to develop your farm’s unique value proposition. This is a statement that answers the question, “Why should a customer choose your farm’s products over a competitor’s?”

For non-farm related businesses, this might be an easier question to answer. After all, it’s easier to sell products that are distinct from others on the market. With produce, it can be more challenging. Look at how other hydroponic companies, like Oishii, have established themselves in the market with clever marketing that establishes their berry varieties as a luxury fruit.

A good value proposition is:

  • Easy to explain and understand.
  • Different enough from competitors to take a chunk of their customers.
  • Appeals to buyer motivations (value, quality, etc).

Take this time to identify your local competitors, observe how they’ve met customer needs, and pinpoint opportunities where your operation can carve out a niche.

A good rule of thumb: if you can’t summarize your business and the value it provides consumers, go back to the drawing board until you can describe those details in an “elevator pitch.”

Choose Your Hydroponic System

The next thing you need to do before you buy a hydroponic farm is select the system that best meets the objectives you identified in the previous section. These are a few of the systems that hydroponic sellers provide, with their key differences.

  • DFT Systems: The Deep Flow Technique (DFT) is a hydroponic system that keeps roots periodically submerged while filling and draining trays with nutrient water. This system is compatible with a variety of different growing media, making it ideal when you need versatility.
  • NFT Systems: The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a hydroponic system that periodically runs a small amount of nutrient water through roots and channels. This system provides the highest yields, making it ideal for commercial production.
  • DIY: The Custom Design option comes empty, so you can outfit your container farm with whatever vertical farming system and features you need. The sky is the limit. This system is best for customization, making it ideal for seedlings, storage or anything else you can imagine.
Two types of hydroponic lettuce growing in a shipping container farm.
Hydroponic systems differ depending on who’s selling the product. Ask questions about power requirements, water requirements, total grow area volume and internal climate controls to compare systems against each other.

Gathering Quotes/Information

After you’ve identified key information about your business plan and preferred hydroponic system, you’ll need to gather information from hydroponic system providers. Tell them about your plans, and they can identify systems that will meet your needs and provide you with quotes.

Here’s a list of information that you’ll need before you buy a hydroponic farm:

  1. Size or tonnage of the HVAC system (If applicable)
  2. How are plants grown? Are they growing sideways or in racked trays?
  3. What types of grow media are recommended?
  4. How many humidifiers and dehumidifiers does the system have? Can the system meet expected yields without these systems?

Some providers manufacture equipment for hydroponic greenhouses, while others, like Pure Greens, provide hydroponic equipment housed within a controlled environment, utilizing insulated shipping containers as an affordable alternative to vertical farming systems.

Balance system costs against your previously identified business plan and consider what system will best meet your operational needs while you get your hydroponic business off the ground. In addition to quotes, system providers will be able to answer questions about how their system runs, how much power will be required for the system to operate and total cost expectations.

Summary

Venturing into the world of hydroponic farming can indeed be daunting, especially for those with limited understanding of agricultural practices. However, with the insights provided in this guide, you can confidently navigate the complexities and make informed decisions that are right for your operations.

By addressing critical questions regarding budget, target market, and suitable hydroponic systems, you lay a strong foundation for your farming endeavor. Remember, a well-thought-out business plan and value proposition is paramount, serving as a roadmap to success and aiding in securing necessary funding.

Through careful consideration and consultation with hydroponic system providers, you can select the system that aligns best with your objectives and operational needs. With perseverance, strategic planning, and the right resources, you are well-positioned to embark on a rewarding journey into hydroponic farming.

Want to buy a hydroponic farm? We can provide you with advice as you start the process. Contact us, and we’ll provide you with a container farm quote and answer any questions you have about what it takes to be a successful hydroponic grower.

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