On-farm Development of Innovative Compost-based Tabletop Systems for Improving Local Strawberry Production in Florida

Progress report for OS23-164

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2023: $29,997.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Xin Zhao
University of Florida
Expand All

Project Information


This project is a site-specific evaluation of tabletop hydroponic strawberry production systems as an economically feasible tool for local strawberry production in low-cost high tunnels. We will work with an urban farm in Orlando, FL to install substrate-based hydroponic strawberry production systems under the existing caterpillar tunnel and strawberry plants will be grown in troughs using a commercially available tabletop structure. Locally produced composts will be evaluated as potential growth substrates for developing tabletop strawberry cultivation systems. By helping the grower build the compost-based tabletop strawberry system that is adapted to their production conditions, we expect to establish a partnership with local growers for technology transfer which allows for a practical assessment of tabletop strawberry production in terms of its potential for improving the long-term sustainability of local strawberry production and supply. We had originally planned to design and set up the on-farm research trial in Summer-Fall 2023; however, it took longer than expected to source the commercial tabletop structure, and we had to postpone the project initiation. We have discussed the situation and the new plan with the grower. Site preparation and tabletop structure installation will be carried out in Summer 2024 followed by strawberry planting in Fall 2024. 

Project Objectives:

The objectives of this on-farm study are to: 1) evaluate different types of compost-based growth substrates that are locally available for tabletop strawberry production; 2) assess the yield and fruit quality performance of different strawberry cultivars grown in compost-based tabletop systems in caterpillar tunnels; and 3) analyze the costs and returns of establishing tabletop strawberry production to determine its economic feasibility.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Mike Garcia - Producer


Materials and methods:

Due to the delay we encountered in sourcing the tabletop structure for substrate-based strawberry growing systems, we were not able to establish the on-farm research trial as originally planned. We will be ready to set up the experiment in Summer 2024 to assess compost-based tabletop strawberry production during the 2024-2025 season. Specific materials and methods used in the on-farm project will be described in detail in the 2025 annual report. 

Research results and discussion:

Although we were not able to conduct the on-farm research trial because of the issue associated with obtaining the commercial tabletop structure for substrate-based strawberry production, we have been in good communication with the grower to discuss the project progress and the modified plan for carrying out the study in the 2024-2025 growing season. Research findings will be presented and discussed in the 2025 annual report. We are also planning to request a no-cost extension given the circumstances. 



Participation Summary
1 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

Since we had to postpone the setup of the on-farm research trial and the experiment will be conducted in the 2024-2025 strawberry production season, we will report education and outreach activities in 2025. 

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Unfortunately, we were not able to install the tabletop system needed for the on-farm research trial due to the challenges faced during the first year of this project. The major project activities will be carried out in the 2024-2025 production season. Project outcomes will be described in the 2025 annual report. 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.