Last week, we had covered the cost for setting up an outer structure in 1 Acre and arrived at a figure of between 10L to 50L depending upon the choice of structure. You can visit that link here.
This was assuming that the project site is already leveled. In case, the project site is not leveled, some expense will be incurred towards leveling of land too. Depending upon the demand-supply gap, nature and extent of effort involved, this may set you back by 10k – 25k.
We recently got a 3 Acre site leveled for one of the projects we are developing in approx 10k (cost was less since not much effort was required at the site). The above image is from that site.
Now, let us look at the cost of setting up the grow structures.
Just like for outer structure, there are multiple choices one would encounter for grow structures too. The choice of grow structure/technology that is used inside will be determined by the choice of the crop that one wants to grow. If one is going for leafy greens, the popular options would be NFT channels, DWC trays, or Vertical Towers. If one wants to go for vegetable crops like cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, English cucumber etc, one should go for structures with more depth and that provide more support to plant. Dutch or Bato buckets, or growing channels, or grow bags would be ideal in this case. Let’s look at each of these one by one. In today’s post, we will cover NFT channels.
NFT channels are usually made of food grade uPVC. They come in circular and rectangular shape. there are many small rooftop kits for 20 – 30 – 60 plants that one can find online. For commercial implementation, these would be costly. One should rather go for buying the pipes in bulk and then custom fitting as per their requirements.
Tip – Do note that having a higher number of growing spaces is not always beneficial. Different plants have different spacing requirements and that should be considered while choosing the pipes. While choosing an NFT set-up, go by the length and not by the number of holes. Extra unused holes will mean extra cost in covering those to prevent root zone and nutrients from light exposure. This is a marketing trick used by most sellers to make you calculate the cost per plant (4 vs 5 growing spaces per meter will make the cost appear 20% cheaper at per plant level). Beware of such gimmicks.
Coming back to the scope of this article, the first step in determining the cost is to determine the cost of NFT channels. Let us try to arrive at the same scientifically.
NFT Channel length for 1 Acre:
In order to get maximum yield, we will try to determine the maximum length of the NFT channel that we can practically fit into 1 Acre.
1 Acre is approximately 4,046 sq M, or 43,560 sq Feet. If we assume a perfect square site, that would be approx 63 M each edge. Some of this space will be occupied by boundary spacing, nutrient tanks, control unit, and structure walls etc. For simplicity sake, let us assume a usable area of 3,600 sq M (60×60).
Also, for simplicity sake, let us assume a bench type layout of NFT channels in a single horizontal layer. In order to be able to tend to the plants, we should restrict the single bench width to approx 1 m. Also, let us keep the spacing between 2 benches to be 1 m. This will ensure sufficient walking/working space for a couple of workers/visitors between two benches.
In such a set-up we can fit approximately 29-30 benches (leaving 0.5m to 1 m at each corner and 1 m between consecutive grow areas).
Next step is to figure out the number of channels in each bench (or in each 1 M). While deciding on this parameter, it is vital to understand the spacing needs and spread for the crop you plan to grow. Each plant should get sufficient light and space to grow foliage. This number would vary from crop to crop. Additionally, one would also need to take into account the size of the NFT channel and the spacing across both, lateral as well as longitudinal dimension. Covering science behind this is beyond the scope of this article. Let us work with an average case number of 6 channels per bench (ideal case in specific crops may be + – 1).
Total numbers of channels we will use will be 174 (assuming 29 benches)
Next, let us figure out the length of the NFT channels required. Since each side is 60 meters, that is the maximum length we can work with. Most of these pipes come in a standard length of 4 m, so let us take that as the max length for each bench (by this we arrive at the bench size of 1m x 4m). Following the logic above, we will keep a 1 m gap between 2 benches and 1 m gap at each corner.
Using the above logic, we can put a maximum of 12 pipes in a single row. With each pipe of 4 m length, this gives us a usable running length of 48 m.
Now that we have the number of channels and also the length of each channel. Multiplication of these 2 will give us the length of NFT channels that will be needed for 1 Acre. This figure is 174×48 = 8,352 meters.
NFT Structure cost for 1 Acre:
At this scale, the pipes may cost you between 200₹ and 250₹ per meter depending upon the pipe specs. So, total cost towards NFT gulleys will be in a range of 17L to 21L.
Additionally, there would be costs towards net-pots or holding plugs, plumbing connections, stand to support NFT channels, labor, and service charges of the experts that you will engage in the installation. These all components may look small but when added in its entirety, can easily set you back by another 10L.
Thus, overall an NFT channel based Hydroponic set-up in 1 Acre can cost approx 30 L for the NFT structure set-up.
- this does not include cost towards the outer structure that we had covered here.
- this does not include the cost towards automation and nutrient supply system which we will cover at a later date.
- the above is an average case scenario, these will differ from cases to case and site to site.
- in case you have some factual info from any running projects, please do share and we will be happy to include it here (and correct any mistakes in our data) with due credits to you.
Gaurav is an entrepreneur whose first Start-up was focused on providing services to patients suffering from Chronic Diseases. While researching about the causes of lifestyle diseases and the ways to reduce their incidence, he chanced upon the idea of growing healthy and nutritious food using advanced farming techniques.
He founded CityGreens with a mission to enable City Dwellers to access Safe, Healthy and Fresh food.