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John Hartman, OceanGrown:
Organic ionic fertilizer aims to put flavor back in hydroponic foodHydroponic food was supposed to feed the world, noted OceanGrown's CEO, John Hartman, at least that was the case several decades ago when growers first started turning to hydroponics in numbers. According to Hartman, when hydroponically-grown food showed deficiencies in flavor, growers had to address that problem. “Hydroponic growers have come a long way in improving yields, cosmetics, food safety, sustainability and the recycling of nutrients, but there's still work to be done when it comes to flavor.” It's that work that Hartman is doing with OceanSolution.
“Nutritional density, amino acids, antioxidants, sugars, brix levels – all of these things are linked to taste,” said Hartman. The idea is that taste goes deeper than aesthetic issues, and if the taste of food improves then that means a host of other things have also improved. OceanGrown produces organic fertilizers that are made specifically to provide hydroponically-grown food with the nutrients necessary to boost taste and nutrition.
“Our product has all 90 naturally occurring periodic chart elements,” said Hartman. “This ionic solution is like a buffet of nutrients for plants, and the plants take up what they need.” Testing in partnership with General Mills' Green Giant Division have yielded results which show boosts in taste, yield and plant health. Hartman points to the way OceanGrown processes their solution as the reason it works.
“We start with deep well mixed ocean-water that's at least 40 miles off the coast of Florida in order to avoid pollutants near the coast,” explained Hartman. “Then we use a proprietary process to extract the nutrients from the water including nitrogen fixing bacteria, and we hold that concentrate in quarantine until we know it's free of any contaminants.” The final product is a concentrated mineral rich fertilizer that supplies the necessary nutrients for plants to grow well and deliver good-tasting food.
“A plants genetics determines what it can do, so if, for instance, you give it 56 elements, it can do this, that and the other, but if you give it fewer elements then it will do fewer things,” said Hartman. “If you do an elemental analysis of a tomato in a grocery store, it may have up to 20 elements, and if it's a hydroponic tomato it generally will have fewer elements. That tomato should have 56 elements to fully express its genetics, therefore to get the best out of plants you must provide all the required elements.”
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