Hydroponics System Requirements

These are the latest requirements for the hydroponics system I’m building.

Mandatory Requirements. The system must:

  • Be profitable; the value of the outputs must be higher than the value of the inputs.
  • Be easy and enjoyable to operate
  • Use the operator’s labor to maximum advantage
  • Grow healthy, nutritious food at a rate and quality and cost that’s better than anything available at the grocery store, or even at the farmer’s market
  • Cost less than $200 to build one minimally-functional system
  • Fit in a space that’s approximately 2’ wide x 5’ long x 8’ high

Optional Requirements. The system should:

  • Be easy to disassemble and clean
  • Be easily scaled up or down
  • Be modular, so that components that have flaky designs can be easily upgraded
  • Cause me to develop new skills, like 3D printing, irrigation, nutrient selection and tuning for optimal plant growth, fungus and algae management
  • Cause me to develop new materials mastery in areas such as LED lighting, reflective materials, irrigation supplies, nutrients, plant cultivars, control systems, pumps, and filters
  • Help me get better at teamwork

These are very rudimentary requirements, and need a great deal of additional detail. We’ll fill in the detail as we iterate through the rest of the design cycle over the next few weeks.

Version 1.0. December 2, 2022

Author: Tom Pfotzer
I'm a retired I.T. worker who runs a farm. Like many of us, I'm trying to figure out how to respond to the slow-motion environmental and economic collapse we're engulfed in. I want to work with people who understand what's going on and are ready to do something about it.

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