[caption id="attachment_52693" align="alignleft" width="245" caption="Professor Lieth of UC Davis testing General Hydroponics fertilizer on strawberries"][/caption]
NORTH BAY – With its unique concentration of high-tech talent and growers it’s not surprising the North Bay region has sprouted a number of companies dedicated to better yields through technology.
In the vineyards, on farms and in research labs innovation around food production is flourishing like poppies after a good Spring rain.
In Petaluma Hydrofarm’s PAR Source division has been experimenting with high-intensity electronic grow lights rather than the traditional magnetically ballasted lighting.
“They last longer, they’re more efficient and offer better yields," said Hydrofarm President Peter Wardenburg. “They’re being used now to grow tomatoes and other hot-house vegetables in advanced greenhouses across the country and in Canada.”
[caption id="attachment_52692" align="alignright" width="163" caption="High intensity electronic ballast in a Hydrofarm research greenhouse"][/caption]
Hydrofarm has been making and developing high-tech indoor growing systems since the disastrous drought of 1977-’78, when lawns and shrubs in the North Bay went brown and gardeners looked for alternative growing methods. The company now supplies large commercial enterprises as well as hobby gardeners.
Hydrofarm and other developers of lighting systems have also been investigating LED grow lights, which hold a great deal of promise in delivering just the part of the spectrum required by certain plants.
“But at this point LED lighting is not economically viable for commercial growers,” he said. “The lights will pay for themselves after long-term use; however, we see a stronger immediate future for HID (high intensity discharge) lamps delivering photo-synthetically active radiation (PAR), a fancy name for the light spectrum used by plants.”
[caption id="attachment_52695" align="alignleft" width="270" caption="General Hydroponics tests FloraNova, an all-in-one liquid fertilizer"][/caption]