“How to grow hydroponic Tomatoes”. Best hydroponic System for growing tomatoes. Hydroponic tomatoes nutrients . Hydroponic yield per plant . Hydroponic tomatoes nutrient solutionGrowing tomatoes in a hydroponic system gives the user various advantages over the traditional soil based farming. It eliminates the problems that are soil based like insects,weeds and soil borne diseases. As users can provide desirable quantities of nutrients through the hydroponics system, it eliminates the concern for quality of nutrients in the soil. Other factors affecting optimal plant growth like temperature,humidity and lighting can also be better controlled in a hydroponic system. As a result, hydroponically grown tomatoes grow faster, give high yield,have better taste and are better in quality. Another advantage of growing tomatoes in a hydroponic system is that tomatoes can be grown the whole year.Best hydroponic System for growing tomatoesTomatoes can grow in almost all hydroponics systems, although some systems are better than others. There are three hydroponic systems that are good for growing tomatoes namely ‘Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)’,’ Ebb and Flow’ and ‘Drip system’ of which ‘Drip system’ is considered the best. Following is a brief overview of these system.1).Nutrient film technique: In Nutrient film Technique, plants are suspended with their roots touching a sloping surface. Water containing nutrients from the reservoir is poured onto this sloping area which moves down the slope under the influence of gravity thus supplying nutrients to plants on the way. This system good and is widely used in commercial production of tomatoes. One drawback is that as water flows from higher end of the slope to the lower end, the plants which come in contact with water first get more nutrients than those who come later. 2).Ebb and Flow system: It is a simple system which consists of a nutrient solution reservoir and a tray.The nutrient solution is pumped from the reservoir into the tray where it supplies the nutrients to the plant. The tray is then drained away and the cycle is repeated again. It is a system used by most hobbyist and home gardeners due to its economy. One drawback is that every plant gets the same amount of nutrients while some plants may need more and some may need less.3).Drip system: This system is a better modification of ‘Ebb and Flow’ system. It consists of a nutrient reservoir, a tray and a network of tubes. The nutrient solution is pumped from the nutrient reservoir, through a network of tubes which are attached to individual plants and is “drip-fed” to individual plants, thus the name drip system. The water is then collected into the grow tray. This hydroponic system provides more control over growing process by allowing the users to provide nutrients to plants according to their individual needs. This system is very well designed and there is an increasing trend to use this system.Growers need to maintain humidity,light and temperature according to the plant requirement in a hydroponic system to ensure their optimal growth.Temperature: Tomatoes need temperature within a range of 55-85 degrees F. Tomato plant thrives in high temperatures but can be damaged by prolonged exposure to temperatures over 93 degrees F. Tomato seeds need temperature around 80 degrees F for 5 to 10 days for germination.Humidity: Humidity levels for tomato plant should be kept between 80-90 percent in the day and 65-75 percent in the night. Light: As for light timing requirements, tomatoes are day neutral plants which means they are flexible in terms of light and dark timings but the grow well with a lot of light. For good growth,they need light for 16-18 hours a day. It will help to provide them High pressure sodium light in their fruiting stage.Growing Medium: It is better to grow tomatoes from seeds in a hydroponic system to avoid the chances of contamination or disease which they are prone to if grown in soil. If the plant is infected, the contamination can spread into the whole system. Rockwool is a good growing medium for seeds because of its capacity to hold water. It needs to be kept moist. Seeds will germinate in 10-15 days. As they do and develop leaves or roots, they can be transported in the main system.Hydroponic tomatoes nutrients Plants need desired quantities of nutrients for optimal growth. In a hydroponic system these desirable quantities of soluble nutrients are mixed into water in a reservoir and supplied to the plants. Macro nutrients that tomatoes need include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, along with other trace minerals. The micronutrients that tomatoes need include Sulfur, Iron, Copper, Manganese, Zinc, Boron and Molybdenum.There are two methods the users can employ to supply these desirable nutrients to the crop. First is using premixed products and the second one is using tailored self-formulated solutions. The two methods differ in the approach to formulating the fertilizer and the resulting nutrient-use efficiency.There are several generalized commercial pre-mixed fertilizer formulations specifically designed for tomatoes that can be used by the growers. These pre-mixed formulations provide concentration of nutrients quite near to the plant requirements. However, users can have a tailored mix of nutrients to meet the custom needs of their plants depending upon their growth stage etc.In order to provide best hydroponic nutrients to hydroponic tomatoes,users should be aware of the nutritional demand of tomatoes.This demand of Macronutrients by plants changes with their growth stage/growing season. In early stages of growth, plants need small amounts of nutrients and as they grow, especially after they develop cluster of fruits, their demand increases. If plants get more or less nutrients than desired at some stage in their life, they become prone to diseases. For example, high levels of N early in the season causes bullishness.It is a disease which distorts the leaves and stems by developing cracks and grooves in them. Decay-causing organisms such as soft rot may enter the plants through these openings.Such plants usually produce misshapen fruits.The suggested concentration of Nitrogen for various stages of tomato plant is 70 mg/l (ppm) for transplant to first cluster, 80 mg/l (ppm) for first cluster to second cluster, 100 mg/l (ppm) for second cluster to third cluster, 120 mg/l (ppm) for third cluster to fifth cluster, 150 mg/l (ppm) for fifth cluster to termination. Phosphorus concentration remains constant at 50 mg/l (ppm) throughout the growing season. Potassium concentration needs to be 120 mg/l (ppm) for transplant to second cluster,150 from second to fifth cluster and 200 120 mg/l (ppm) from fifth cluster to termination.Calcium concentration remains constant at 150 mg/l (ppm) throughout the growing season Magnesium concentration needs to be 40 mg/l (ppm) for transplant to third cluster and 50 mg/l (ppm) for third cluster to termination. The concentration of micronutrients remains same throughout the growing season. The concentrations of Sulfur needs to be 50 mg/l (ppm), of Iron at 2.7 mg/l (ppm), of Copper at 0.07 mg/l (ppm), Of Manganese at 0.67 mg/l (ppm), of Zinc at 0.14 mg/l (ppm), of Boron at 1.2 mg/l (ppm) and of Molybdenum at 0.07 mg/l (ppm).PH level: For growing tomatoes users need to set pH level of water as slightly acidic, between 5.8 and 6.3. pH level can be lowered by adding phosphoric acid, and raised by adding potassium hydroxide. Electrical conductivity: The best electrical conductivity for tomatoes is between 2.0 and 3.5 milliMhos.This ideal electrical conductivity can be achieved by mixing the correct nutrients into the water with adjusted pH.Water quality plays an important role in healthy plant growth. Factors like salinity, concentration of potential harmful elements (like sodium, chlorides and boron) need to be eliminated to get sustained output.The users need to have good quality pH and ppm meters so that they can maintain the necessary parameters for robust and sustained growth of tomato plants..Hydroponic yield per plant The yield of tomatoes varies depending depending on various factors. These factors include plant type, growing method and environmental conditions. As these factors can be better controlled in hydroponic system than in a soil based system, the yield of hydroponically grown tomatoes is way higher than tomatoes grown in a soil based system. A tomato plant grown in a soil based system can produce an estimated 8-20 pounds per plant per year while a tomato plant grown in a hydroponic system can provide a yield of 25-50 pounds per plant per year.Tomatoes grown hydroponically also vary in yield. The main factor affecting the yield is plant type. In a hydroponic system, some plant varieties may provide an estimated yield of 25 pounds per plant per year while some plants may provide a yield of upto 50 pounds per plant per year or even surpassing that in some cases.