by Amber

Inflatable DWC: World’s Most Versatile Hydroponics System

It’s coming. Soon. A hydroponics system that is really three systems in one, and then some. Designed in Wales, a grower can use it as aeroponics, deep water culture with bubbleponics magic inside, and easily turn it into aquaponics by adding fish to the nutrient supply line. It can also perform as an ebb and flow system, so now we’re at 4-in-1, but not at the end of the list. The guys at Phytoponics have a transparent version that will slide right into aquaculture too. Interested in indoor shrimp farming? This solves the common insufficient oxygen issue.

So, it’s really multiponics equipment that makes it possible to grow just about anything, anywhere. Here’s Adam Dixon, the inventor and CEO to tell you about it.

The plants grown in this new patent-pending hydroponics system, known as the Hydrosac, reside in an inflatable poly bag with an integrated aeration system that provides continuous optimum oxygenation so crucial to keeping plants healthy and thriving. Designed for indoor farmers with great attention paid to making it both affordable and easy to use, Phytoponics’ new invention will first appeal to commercial growers, but don’t feel left out hobby growers… they want to create a smaller version just for you too. Be patient, their first concern is making food production sustainable.

MultiponicsThe Hydrosac and its supporting hydroponics system equipment and controllers are already in use on at least two large farms, one in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, and the other is Rago, one of Italy’s largest salad producers. In fact, Rago’s in Italy couldn’t wait to get it into their greenhouses after seeing it at Rome’s FoodTech Demo Day in March. These select farms’ trial grows with Phytoponic’s system puts the equipment in a working commercial setting (and word on the street lane so to speak), and provides the feedback needed to get the fine tuning in place before the product hits the market in early 2018.

Setting this hydroponics system up won’t require a farmer to bring in specialists. Start small and scale up from there, it’s designed for scalability. Setup couldn’t be easier; simply unroll the Hydrosacs and inflate it, plug-in the aerator, hook the grow bags up to your nutrient tank, and plant your crop. I’m sure getting the nutrients just right for the plants in each sector will make it a bit more complex. Sectors? Oh yes, Phytoponics has already addressed growing multiple crops under one roof using the same system with a different top for vines than row crops.

I love the fact that it’s designed to nurture new seedlings in an aeroponic environment until their root systems develop to a point that there won’t be any stress going into a deep water culture (DWC). You don’t need to move the plants. Just switch what’s going on inside the Hydrosac, which will be available in runs up to 50 meters (164 ft) long. Awesome, right? But wait, it gets even better… priced at $25-39USD per 10.75 square feet (£20-30/m2), though adding IoT automation will increase the cost from about $26,000 (£20,000) an acre to $129,000 (£100,000) – that’s a lot of sensors and monitoring integration.

Naturally, UK indoor farmers should have no problem getting this hydroponics system once it’s on the market. But Europe is their initial target market with its some 100,000  hectares of greenhouse operations already running at a profit. However, it may turn out that North America won’t have to wait long for the opportunity to simplify indoor growing on a big scale because supply is always about demand.

Phytoponics’ goal is to disrupt commercial-scale indoor farming, make fresh food easier to produce in any location and help farmers become more profitable and self-sustainable. Their unique growing system that ships so compactly and allows such versatility has won them much recognition for a startup. Most recently Adam Dixon was chosen the European finalist in the UN’s Young Champions of the Earth.

Learn More/Sources:

Images courtesy of Phytoponics, Create the Future, and BBC Farming Today (August 17).

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The garden played a starring role from spring through fall in the house Amber was raised in. She has decades of experience growing plants from seeds and cuttings in the plot and pots.