LED perfect sunlight
TECHNICALLY it’s a completely automatic vertical hydroponic growing system using full-spectrum LED lighting.
But a simple way to describe it is as a robotic harvester that creates a perfect sunny day for seedlings.
EPONIC’s AutoCrop was on show at the GFIA trade fair in Brisbane.
The snazzy stall highlighted the modern system’s effectiveness in growing high-volume crops.
“The heart of the unit is the lights,” EPONIC’s Dennis Mah said.
“Basically it mimics sunlight and enhances photosynthesis, which increases the rate of growth. The rest is simple robotics.”
The robot shifts the seedling across the unit and harvests the plant when it’s ready.
This display showcased lettuce which normally has a 22-day production cycle.
AutoCrop is being used in the United States, Europe and China.
“At the moment, in China, we are building seven greenhouses, which will fit three units each and be 10 levels high,” he said.
“This is big in Asia. We are working with the Chinese Government as they want to produce more food. Pollution is an issue there and the quality of the food produced is an issue there, that’s why the government wants a system like this where they can grow high-volume plants for their market.”
The full-size version of AutoCrop is not in use in Australia.
“The US guys have told us Australia is 30 years behind in regards to hydroponic technology,” he said.
“The response here (at the conference) has been great, but for the people here I don’t think this is a solution for a problem they have. And elsewhere, we are a solution to a problem.”
However, smaller scale units have been embraced.
“This machine here – Little Farm – is in use at the Westpac office on George Street in Sydney, Farmwall has put them in offices to reduce work-related stress,” he said.
AG TECH: Alex Poon, Dennis Mah and Lee Merry with their AutoCrop display at the GFIA trade fair.