LED per­fect sun­light

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - NEWS - AN­DREA DAVY An­[email protected]­ral­weekly.com.au

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, Farm wall has put them in of­fices to re­duce work-re­lated stress,” he said.

PHOTO: AN­DREA DAVY

AG TECH: Alex Poon, Den­nis Mah and Lee Merry with their Au­toCrop dis­play at the GFIA trade fair.

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