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Soilless Food Production Is Topic of Upcoming Conference

Farm & Ranch Life | OK

Posted on: Jun 26th 2019

Source: Oklahoma State University

If you have been wanting to learn more about soilless food production, your opportunity has arrived.

Oklahoma State University’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture is hosting an all-day conference July 10, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 201 Food and Agricultural Products Center on the OSU campus.

Lynn Brandenberger, OSU Cooperative Extension food crops specialist, said this conference is a great opportunity for new and current growers to enhance their knowledge about food production in a controlled environment.

“We’ll have industry experts sharing their expertise on hydroponics, plant nutrition, disease and insect management, crops, organic and marketing,” Brandenberger said. “They’ll discuss food production in a controlled environment and will provide key information to those exploring the possibilities soilless systems have to offer potential new growers. We’ll also discuss how hydroponic and aquaponics systems work, as well as specifics on plant nutrition and leafy and fruiting crops.”

Bruce Dunn, professor, herbaceous ornamentals, said there are advantages to producing foods using this alternative growing method.

“The use of hydroponics or aquaponics as part of a soilless production system to grow food has advantages such as being used in places where traditional in-ground agriculture or gardening isn’t possible. This could be due to soil pathogens in the area,” Dunn said. “This method provides growers with more complete control of nutrient component, pH and growing environment, faster growth, higher yields and easier harvest. In addition, crop rotation or fallowing isn’t necessary.”

Dunn pointed out disadvantages include greater initial and operating costs than traditional soil methods, as well as having to learn the skills necessary to properly operate this new type of growing environment.

“By attending this conference, participants will take away a greater understanding of hydroponics and aquaponics, how to manage the systems, what crops can be grown and what is involved in running a business related to soilless production,” Dunn said. “Afterwards they’ll be able to improve current production of food crops in a business they already have or will be much better informed of what it takes to start a business.”

Brandenberger said participants also will have the opportunity to tour the new, state-of-the-art teaching greenhouses that are set to open for the fall 2019 semester.

Conference registration is $40 and includes lunch. Those who wish to participate may register online at Registration deadline is July 3. For registration questions, contact Stephanie Larimer at 404-744-5404 or email For more information about the conference, email Brandenberger at

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