Economic Assessment of Hydroponic Lettuce Production at Goucher College

Students: William Daly1,3 and Joseph Fink1,2

Faculty Adviser: Gina Louise Shamshak1

Abstract

Hydroponics refers to a form of production where plants are grown in a nutrient-enriched water solution, rather than in soil. There are a number of benefits and costs associated with hydroponic production versus traditional soil-based agricultural production, both in terms of economic performance and environmental impacts.  In order to specifically assess the economic performance of an existing hydroponic lettuce production system at Goucher College, we developed a computer-based enterprise budget using Microsoft Excel.  The spreadsheet model incorporates the production costs and expected returns associated with the hydroponic system that was developed this summer as part of this research project. The spreadsheet model also allows the user to assess a variety of alternative production scenarios (for example, changing the species raised, changing the number of plants raised in the system, or changing the duration of the production cycle) in order to asses the impact of those changes on various economic performance indicators. In particular, the model identifies the annual profit, break-even prices and break-even quantities associated with various biological and economic parameters. 

Click here for the research poster presented at the Fifth Annual Landmark Conference Summer Research Symposium

1 Department of Economics

2 Department of Biological Sciences

3 Environmental Studies Program