A new approach to deep water hydroponics that incorporates deep water culture, ebb and flood system, aeration, ventilation and plant support all within one inflatable growing module, has been launched by early-stage company Phytoponics at REAP. The flexible system provides an affordable entry into hydroponics and is quick to install.
The idea of Phytoponics came out of frustration with the limitations of current systems as co-founder and CEO Adam Dixon explains:
“Currently the leading systems use drip-irrigated on raised gutters with ventilation socks below,” he says. “The system is vulnerable to temperature variations and gives inconsistent yields and quality unless heavily optimised.
“Phytoponics uses a deep-water system which offers higher nutrient levels and good ventilation control, which provides much greater consistency in temperature.
“By making it flexible we can mass manufacture the modules more cheaply and ship them rolled up – saving space – and install them quickly. It is simply unroll, inflate, connect and grow. This brings the total installation cost of a high performance hydroponic system right down.”
“This method also makes the hydroponics difficult to steal, which is a problem for the industry. The thief would have to take a whole 20m long module, drain it, de-inflate it and roll it up. The more expensive parts can be locked up in a secure unit on the side, with the system controlled from there.”
Dixon has patented the technology and assembled a team including a world-leading hydroponic grower and a technical expert in biotechnology systems. Together they have designed a commercial scale vine system for horticulture.
Dixon took part in the Start-Up Showcase at REAP, presenting his system to a roomful of producers, agronomists, technologists and scientists. Currently based in Cardiff, he hopes to relocate to Cambridge to be close to the target audience of commercial growers.
“We want to reach commercial growers in the UK and people looking to start a hydroponic farm. We are also looking to connect with local commercial greenhouse and non-salad growers, and to raise investment so that we can get to work developing and trialling our system ready for commercial launch in 2018.”
For more information about Phytoponics visit phytoponics.com