Howard M. Resh (PhD)
Howard M. Resh (born January 11, 1941 in Canada) is internationally known as a pioneering hydroponics researcher, author and practitioner. His website www.howardresh.com provides a wide range of hydroponics information for hobbyists, professionals and commercial growers. In addition, Dr. Resh has written seven authoritative books on hydroponic culture both for commercial growers and hobbyists.
Dr. Resh’s stellar career in hydroponics started when he was a graduate student at the University of British Columbia (UBC), in Vancouver, Canada in 1971. He was asked by a private group to assist them in the construction of hydroponic greenhouses in the Vancouver area. During his graduate studies he continued with greenhouse design and construction consulting and was soon also teaching professional hydroponics classes.
After completing his doctoral degree in Horticulture at UBC in 1975, he worked three years as Urban Horticulturist for the Faculty of Plant Science at UBC.
With his established reputation as a hydroponics pioneer, Dr. Resh was soon implementing and managing commercial hydroponics ventures around the world, including Venezuela, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S.A.
In 1999, Dr. Resh started a unique hydroponics farm on the island of Anguilla, B.W.I, in the Eastern Caribbean, where he is still farming today.
While he was a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, B.C beginning in 1971, Dr. Resh developed plant cultural techniques and 3-part nutrient formulations for the growing of vegetable crops in greenhouses.
While continuing his graduate studies for his doctorate degree, in 1973 he formed a company with an engineer to design and manufacture backyard greenhouses using hydroponic culture. Over the next five years, Dr. Resh and his colleagues studied hydroponic greenhouse issues in temperate and tropical regions of the World, including Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America and Hawaii.
Upon graduation with his doctorate in 1975, Dr. Resh took up a position at the University of British Columbia as Urban Horticulturist, but continued pursuing commercial hydroponics via his company.
As UBC’s Urban Horticulturist, Dr. Resh taught courses in horticulture, hydroponics, plant propagation, greenhouse design and production. He did pioneering research to discover alternative designs of the nutrient film technique (NFT) that was introduced by Dr. Allen Cooper in England. His research helped NFT system effectiveness by dealing with problems caused by oxygen deficit and nutrient absorption associated with it.
During this period while he was Urban Horticulturist and later as General Manager for a large plant nursery, Dr. Resh did research and production consultation for a commercial hydroponic farm growing lettuce, watercresss and other vegetables in Venezuela. In 1995-96, he was project manager for the Venezuelan farm, where he devised and supervised hydroponic methods of growing lettuce, watercresss, peppers, tomatoes and European cucumbers.
Significantly, Dr. Resh at that time became one of the early pioneers of a root zone media made of coconut hulls, which at the time was virtually unheard of but hydroponic growers increasingly use today.
Indeed, Dr. Resh developed a special medium of rice hulls and coco coir from local sources. He also designed and constructed a Mung bean and alfalfa sprout facility to introduce sprouts into the local market.
In the late 1980’s Dr. Resh assisted a Florida company growing lettuce in a floating raft culture system and in preparing greenhouse proposals for construction and operation of large greenhouses using waste heat from cogeneration power plants in the northeastern United States.
From 1990 to 1999, Dr. Resh was Technical Director and Project Manager for hydroponic projects growing watercress and herbs in California. He designed and constructed several multi-acre outdoor hydroponic watercress facilities using a unique NFT system that overcame production losses due to drought conditions in the area.
In mid-1999, Dr. Resh became Hydroponic Greenhouse Farm Manager for the first Hydroponic Farm associated with a high-end resort: the Cuisinart Golf Resort & Spa, in Anguilla, B.W.I. in the northeastern Caribbean.
Dr. Resh’s Cuisinart hydroponics farm is the only one in the world owned by a resort growing its own fresh salad crops and herbs exclusively for the resort. Better yet, the farm is now a key way that the resort attracts guests to experience delicious home-grown vegetables, including tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, bok choy and herbs.
Cuisinart Golf Resort and its one of a kind hydroponics farm has gained world-wide recognition as one of the leading hotels of the world. Articles have appeared about the resort and its hydroponic greenhouse farm in numerous travel and food magazines, such as Caribbean Travel, Food & Wine, Virtuoso Travel & Life, and Latitudes in-flight magazine of American Airlines, Diablo, Buena Vida, Brntwd, Votre Beaute, Mer Caraibes, Growing Edge, Practical Hydroponics and others.
In addition, the farm has been featured on international television such as the Travel Channel and the Food Network’s Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” program.
Dr. Resh has over 50 publications including 7 books. The publications are listed under “Consulting”, “Bio-resume” on his website: www.howardresh.com. The seven books he has written include: “Hydroponic Food Production” (English & Spanish editions), “Hydroponic Home Food Gardens,” “Hydroponic Tomatoes for the Home Gardener,” “Hydroponics-Questions & Answers,” ,“Hobby Hydroponics” and “Hydroponics for the Home Grower”.
Biography & Philosophy:
Dr. Resh is one of the pioneers of development of large-scale hydroponic commercial greenhouse operations. In the 1970’s hydroponics started to make inroads into the greenhouse industry on a large scale.
In the greenhouse industry in British Columbia, the use of sawdust root zone media soon displaced soil growing. At that time Douglas fir and Hemlock sawdusts were cheap as they were waste products of the lumber industry.
As new substrates, such as rockwool were developed out of Europe, the industry soon switched to rockwool in areas not having abundant supply of sawdust. Rockwool can be easily shipped to most parts of the world.
While NFT became a common system to grow lettuce and some herbs, it was not very successful for the growing of long-term vine crops, such as tomatoes, peppers and European cucumbers due to oxygen deficit challenges that arose during a maturing crop. Rockwool was ideal for the growing of these vine crops.
As efficient methods of water culture (floating or raft culture) were developed, lettuce became one of the principal commercial crops for large-scale greenhouse operations.
Where rice and coconut palms were principal local crops, their waste products of rice hulls and coconut husks created an opportunity for use as media for hydroponic growing.
In fact, Dr. Resh was one of the first to use rice hulls in the growing of herbs in California in the early 1990’s. He then applied the same methods to growing tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in Venezuela using a mixture of rice hulls and coco coir, which are readily available in tropical climates. This enabled hydroponic growing in these regions to be less expensive, because rockwool did not have to be imported.
These substrates, especially coco coir, have become integrated into worldwide use in the industry today. Volcanic pumice and perlite, where abundant, are also good hydroponic substrates.
Hydroponics over the past few decades has also branched out into many new areas. Hobby hydroponics has become a thriving industry, in part because in the 1970’s Dr. Resh designed several hobby/home hydroponics units, including backyard hydroponic greenhouses.
Within a decade, in-home and backyard hydroponics have become wildly popular and many new companies offering hobbyist hydroponic systems.
“Popular Hydroponics,” a simplified form of backyard hydroponics, is now practiced in low-income communities in countries of Mexico, Central America and South America. This is partially financed by FAO in the development of such community projects in Venezuela, Colombia and Peru with the assistance of the local universities. It is also becoming a part of many prisons in these countries to educate prisoners to become self sufficient upon their release. It has been practiced very successfully in a women’s prison in Uruguay.
Now hydroponic culture is applied under many extreme conditions that were never thought of before. For example, it is an integral part of the space station under zero gravity using water culture systems. It is applied in the growing of fresh salad crops in Antarctica to supply the McMurdo research station.
Today hydroponics is entering the “green” concept of creating hydroponic farms on roof tops of buildings in cities. Dr. Resh actually did such a project in Taipei, Taiwan in mid-1980. But, once again it was not accepted as a viable alternative at that time. Today with the emphasis on our environment, Dr. Resh believes it will be successful in developing many hydroponic farms within cities. Dr. Resh is presently working on such projects.
Hydroponics is a very unique form of agriculture in that it can be applied on relatively simple terms to very complex situations, such as we have seen from the use of hobby or popular hydroponics to the sophisticated commercial greenhouse operations to space travel.
It’s obvious that Dr. Resh can accurately be described as an international pioneer who’s partly responsible for the materials and methods in the increasingly popular hydroponics industry.
By doing early, unique and precise research to bring coco coir, 3-part hydroponics nutrients, NFT, water culture, commercial greenhouse production and other innovations to hydroponics, Dr. Resh has earned his place in history, and stands alongside Gericke and Hoagland as a hydroponics hero.