Technical books, publications, and links on hydroponics & CEA


For people who want to learn technical details about the process of growing food hydroponically, here are some helpful resources I’ve found:

Books & Magazines

  1. The academic sources I’ve come across usually recommend Howard M. Resh’s book, “Hydroponic Food Production: A Definitive Guidebook for the Advanced Home Gardener and the Commercial Hydroponic Grower”. This book costs over $50 USD, so I haven’t bought a copy yet.

  2. The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century by Dickson Despommier. This is great! I just finished reading the kindle version last week. This book talks about how our current global food production works, how things came to be that way, and how we might transform the current system to be less wasteful and more productive as the world’s population continues to grow. The book ends with an extensive list of links and resources including many about hydroponics.

  3. Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses is an Australian magazine about hydroponics and greenhouses:

University Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) programs:

  1. Cornell

  2. University of Arizona

Seed and equipment suppliers

  1. Johnny’s Selected Seeds sells seeds and provides lots of howto information for growers

    • I requested one of their printed seed catalogs a while ago, and it came in the mail last week. This catalog is amazing, and I assume other seed catalogs are probably similarly useful. The Johnny’s catalog includes pictures of mature plants for each variety of seed along with information about suitable growing conditions–pH ranges, soil temperature ranges, day and night air temperature ranges, fertilization, time to harvest, etc.
    • On their website, the Tech Sheets page of their Grower’s Library has pdfs with detailed instructions for growing various crops including salad mix, micro greens, greenhouse peppers, and greenhouse cucumbers.
  2. General Hydroponics makes the ph Up, pH Down, FloraDuo A, and FloraDuo B solutions specified in the PFC2 bill of materials. The General Hydroponics website has a “knowledgebase” section with FAQ-style pages on hydroponics in general and on the specifics of using their pH and nutrient solutions successfully. They also sell simple, ready-made hydroponics systems.

Which is the fastest method for growing crops
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This is great! Here are some useful White Papers on the whole industry as well:

Bunch of help guides:

Plant Growth Chamber Handbook


How to Hydroponics:

Nutrient solution suggestions:

Various Hydroponic Guides:

Hope those help!


@Webb.Peter, The GYOStuff learning center is really good. Thanks for the links.


Tonight I stumbled across, a USDA website on controlled environment growth chambers. This is a quote from their home page:

North Central Extension & Research Activity–101 (NCERA-101) is a committee of the USDA organized to help plant scientists understand how to use controlled environment technology effectively and consistently. It evolved from a group of plant scientists in the American Society for Horticultural Science, who in 1969, began discussing how to utilize growth chambers effectively to ensure consistent and comparable growth data among laboratories.

The publications page [broken link, see below] is interesting. In particular, chapter 1 of the Plant Growth Chamber Handbook [broken link, see below] has good in-depth details on lighting requirements for photosynthesis.

[edit: @Webb.Peter, I just realized you linked to this before, but I never clicked through far enough to find the good stuff on photosynthesis]


This is insane. I completely forgot you put this together already, way to go, Will.

@RadioDave @jimbell @drewthomas89


Your link didn’t work for me, but I did a search from the Controlled Environments website and located this
Growth Chamber Handbook



Hmm… yeah, it looks like NCERA-101 updated their website.

These links are broken now:

  • NCERA-101 publications page:
  • Old Growth Chamber Hanbook table of contents page:

Currently working links:


Something to add to this, it’s quite the commitment but I HIGHLY recommend this series of lectures by Dr. Cheri Kubota out of University of Arizona’s CEAC program. They’re from 2017 and her course is unique in that it combines engineering and plant science for an overview of how plant physiology can be impacted by a controlled environment.


CEAC has a great report by a grad student who’s interned at several plant factories in Japan. Excellent talk with many industry insights and a great discussion of the results of their experiments on efficiency of their schools prototype vertical farm.

@TechBrainstorm @ATBFarms @house @BioLumo


@wsnook Would you be interested in putting together a similar thread on aquaponics? I have loads of aquaponic PDFs but could use some help consolidating it. I’ll be working with the St. Louis Science Center to add the MVP software to their aquaponic greenhouse. We will also be doing some more ion specific testing of the water (nitrogen, ammonia, phosphorous).

I think there’s a lot that commercial hydroponics can learn from small-scale aquaponics. It blows my mind, the water they have is less than 300 PPM and yet they can grow lettuce in nearly the same time as me using Jacks hydro. I really want to dig into the science of aquaponics, and I think that CEA aquaponic greenhouses have potential to make a significant contribution to food security concerns internationally.

I know there are some more aquaponic enthusiasts out there, I just need some help getting the conversation started and then keeping it moving.


I’m fairly ignorant when it comes to aquaponics–haven’t looked into it much. Speaking of aquaponics though, are you familiar with the New Alchemists? John Todd, bioshelters, etc. Links:


They had an interesting paper on Chinese permaculture.

Perhaps that’s more the direction to take it then. Entamology, aquaponics, mushrooms, composting, bio-reactors. It’s a great conversation with loads of open-source content to get started. I’d definitely be able to help in the realm of aquaponics. There’s a lot of haze and “magic” still to it, yet I feel like lessons can be pulled from aquaculture and combined with hydroponics/CEA best practices for a really productive and efficient ecosystem.

As you can see from this there’s still a lot to learn:

Here’s that paper:

1012-7786-1-PB.pdf (1.4 MB)


I’m bumping this thread to encourage people to learn about hydroponics before they start trying to build a food computer.

The term Food Computer is just branding for a box that combines climate control, hydroponic or aeroponic growth media (DWC hydroponic for the PFC designs), artificial lighting, and a control system.

My point is not to diminish the value of branding and marketing, but rather to emphasize the importance of understanding hydroponics. If you want to grow successfully with a food computer, you will need to understand the basics of hydroponics first.


Just adding to @wsnook’s post, Some other great resources on CEA and growing…

  • Garden bed spacing recommendations from Garden in Minutes (they have lots of other good resources and articles as well)

  • Eden Brothers (also another supplier of non-GMO gardening seeds)


I’m bumping this thread again to remind people there are lots of good links here for learning about hydroponics and controlled environment agriculture.