November 23, 2013
Between climate change, water availability, and population growth – the number of people working on solving the issue of feeding the world has exploded. Engadget currently looks interested at funding a new vertical farming unit known as GrowCube in it’s Insert Coin Expand NY program.
GrowCube is an aeroponics system that if the funding is gained aims to supply both homes and commercial operations with a fully automated way to grow fresh food in any climate. Designed and developed by a software engineer, the units are beautifully futuristic. The home grower’s version is about the size of a dishwasher and is designed to occupy the same undercounter space in the average kitchen. The farming version is about 3 times larger and was created with visions of stackable units to facilitate the demands of feeding urban dwellers.
On the surface, GrowCube looks very exciting. The units are totally transparent, which is great if you have auxillary sunlight. However, it doesn’t maximize available light energy for plants being grown in them. Especially when you’ve got such an indoor garden installed in a windowless warehouse, basement location, or the basic home kitchen. The grow lighting is naturally provided by LEDs, which aren’t intense enough to grow fruiting plants in arrays as small as those shown in the available video and images of this new indoor gardening concept.
The growing trays rotate on a wheel similar to the Omega Garden, Volksgarden and Roto-Grow system, but the design is quite a bit different with the GrowCube since nutrients are delivered in a mist. With the other rotating hydroponics systems the wheel moves the root zones through a nutrient reservoir at the base and the grow light is in the center.
Unlike it’s forerunners in rotational growing, GrowCube is totally computerized. The gardener needs no knowledge whatsoever to enjoy a harvest. The programming and it’s knowledge base on the cloud provide all the metrics of nutrition and environmental control needed for start to finish crops. This is cool. All guess work and room for error has been removed.
Another strong point designed right into GrowCube is that the sealed chamber does not allow insects to enter, due to the body armor and numerous filters. It is equipped with anti-pathogen protection too, in the form of a UV lamp.
Inventor and software developer, Chris Beauvois, is in an enviable position as a semi-finalist in Engadget’s Insert Coin competition. He hopes to have his GrowCubes on the market by this time next year. However, besides a mention that it has been tested with a number of crops already, there are no images of the system during a grow. Tall plants are out of the question and those with lots of branching could pose some issues with the wheel, still it is very difficult to design a compact unit that will accommodate every edible plant on earth. With aeroponics you can grow many things you cannot using other hydroponic methods.
Image courtesy of Engadget where you can read their take on Chris’ hydro system. Here’s to wishing him good luck in claiming the coveted Insert Coin funding.
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