Hydroponics & Aquaponics

Webpage in progress (New course fall 2019)

Instructor: Jonathan A. Allred, Cornell University

Email: jallred@umass.edu

Course Description: This course is intended to be applicable to a diverse audience with interests in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) systems. This class will cover the principals and practices of commercial hydroponic vegetable, herb and fruit production. Topics covered in this class include: growing environments (high tunnels, greenhouses, and warehouse/vertical farms), manipulation of and crop response to the aerial and root-zone environments, nutrient solution preparation and management, aquaponics and organic hydroponics, crop maintenance, production scheduling, integrated pest management, business plan development, and markets.

Learning Objectives: After having completed this class, students will have a proficient understanding of:

  • Greenhouse structures as applicable to climate, crop selection and finances.
  • Define the primary types of hydroponic systems including but not limited to: effects on the physical, chemical and biological needs of plants.
  • List optimized conditions for light, temperature and carbon dioxide of some of the major hydroponic crops.
  • Calculate energy costs for lighting and heating in greenhouse environments
  • Calculate nutrient concentrations from pre-formulated fertilizers
  • Develop custom fertilizers recipes using individual chemicals


Homework: Homework will be assigned at the beginning of the week on Monday and will be due the same week on Sunday. Assignments will follow lecture material so homework may not be given every week.

Exams: The class has two midterm exams and one final exam. Midterms will not be cumulative, so questions will be based solely on material covered since the previous exam).The final exam will be cumulative with about 50% consisting of new material and 50% on material previously covered in midterms one and two. You can expect that the exams will contain some calculations so have a calculator present during the examination period. Exams will be available on blackboard for one week and can be started at any time. Once started, students will have a given time period to complete the exam.

Quizzes: Over the course of the semester there will be a total of five quizzes each worth 20 points. Quizzes are not cumulative and will only include material covered after the previous quiz. Quizzes cannot be made-up. Quizzes will be available on blackboard for one week and can be started at any time. Once started, students will have a given time period to complete the quiz.

Final Report: A final report will be due at the end of the semester (Date TBD). The purpose of the report is to encourage students to think critically about a hydroponic or aquaponics business model with an emphasis on crop management. Students will have to pick a market and crop and develop a business model utilizing knowledge gained in the class. Reports should demonstrate a knowledge of system/crop relationships, crop timing, predicted yields and general management. More information will be made available.

Supporting Text (Optional):

  1. Hydroponic Food Production, 7th Ed. Howard M. Resh, CRC Press ISBN: 978-1-4398-7867-5 Available on Amazon, etc. ($60-70)
  2. Greenhouse Management, 7th, Paul V. Nelson. 2011. ISBN-13: 978-0132439367 Available on Amazon ($175 – 240)

Helpful Resources:

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