I recently got the opportunity to visit a hydroponics farm in Wise County. It’s located in Coeburn, VA at Camp 18. This unit operates a large farm that includes an apple orchard and greenhouses that utilize hydroponics & aquaponics to grow vegetables. Many of the crops harvested from this farm are used to sustain the facility. 

Before we went to the Camp, my supervising agent Phill Meeks presented on hydroponics and aquaponics. From his presentation I learned that hydroponics is a soilless farming technique that uses nutrient rich water to grow crops. Since it requires less water overall compared to traditional agriculture, it is a very cost-effective method for large-scale farming. Aquaponics is very similar to hydroponics, except it’s a technique that raises fish alongside growing plants. This efficient technique uses wastes from the fish as nutrients for the plants to absorb. We got to see both of these farming methods in action at Camp 18.

Camp 18 Farm Manager, Denny Bise, was nice enough to give us a tour of the farm. He explained to me some of the challenges they face with the hydroponic production of tomatoes and cucumbers. One of their greenhouses had a disease outbreak that spread throughout its tomato plants and the regrowth of suckers. We sent one of the infected tomato plants to a lab to identify the cause of the issue. We also got to see their aquaponics and gained insight on how they breed and raise the fish to help their crop production.

Hydroponics & Aquaponics