SOURCE: Innovator Steven Blackburn

Innovator Steven Blackburn

September 17, 2014 22:00 ET

Gardening Expert Steven Blackburn Reveals Faster Growth With Hydroponic Systems

WEST PALM BEACH, FL--(Marketwired - Sep 17, 2014) - Skarsgard Farms, the largest community-supported agriculture operation in the state of New York, just announced plans to convert a 3,000 square-foot big traditional greenhouse in the South Valley into a hydroponic greenhouse. As most other farmers in the area, Skarsgard relies on greenhouses to extend the growing season despite the rather cool and windy conditions that are common in upstate New York starting in September. With the introduction of a hydroponic system Skarsgard hopes to leverage its greenhouse operations even better, spearheading a trend that started in urban farming and is becoming increasingly compelling for large-scale organic producers.

"It is no surprise that hydroponics is so widespread among urban farmers," says Steven Blackburn, Development Manager at Vegalab, an internationally renowned producer of organic fertilizers. "One of the major advantages of growing plants without soil is that it requires no tractors or other big equipment to prepare the ground. On top of that the utilization of the production ground, which is especially limited in cities, can easily be doubled or tripled," he explains. And despite the fact that hydroponic systems rely on water rather than on soil, the water use is actually lower compared to traditional growing methods.

Plants in hydroponic systems are generally supported by an inert medium, such as pea gravel clay pellets or perlite. This medium provides physical support, but no nutrients, so plants draw all their food out of the water. Water alone is not enough though, thus careful fertilization is essential. Steven Blackburn, who does not only work with agricultural products, but is also an enthusiastic hobby gardener, experimented with a hydroponics greenhouse himself and achieved great results using the right combination of Vegalab fertilizers. "It is important to provide the plants with a full spectrum of all necessary nutrients," says Blackburn. "Vital ingredients are nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, as well as macronutrients and trace elements. And with high-quality fertilizers and controlled temperature and humidity within a greenhouse, fruits and vegetables can be harvested after only 45 or 50 days."

His work at Vegalab allows Steven Blackburn to combine his passion for a sustainable living and his extensive experience in organic agriculture with his job. In his capacity as Development Manager he contributes to the development of innovative, all-natural products, such as fertilizers, insecticides or pesticides. Blackburn works at the company's North American headquarters in Florida, but is at the same time a driving force behind Vegalab's expansion into the Central American market. During multiple trips to countries such as Panama, Guatemala and Costa Rica, he has talked to local farmers and distributors to understand their needs and to develop a strategy away from chemical agricultural products to healthier and sustainable solutions. In his free time Blackburn enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter or getting his hands dirty in his very own vegetable garden.

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