Why Airponix is different
Airponix Ltd. was set up in 2016 although one of the team has been involved in the concept since 1970. Recently a trial Airponix system has been tested with a leading UK agri-producer growing potatoes and results to date have exceeded expectations (see Demonstration Trials section below).
Airponix offers a superior mechanism to other hydroponics and aeroponics systems. These utilise a mist or spray with limited performance and are uneconomic for all but the highest value crops such as herbs and lettuce (not staples such as rice, maize and potatoes.) See more advantages in graphic to right.
Key advantages over existing Aeroponics systems
The video shows our innovative fog generation system which utilises an industrial ink jet print-head to produce up to 160 million droplets of <20 micron diameter every second, with very little energy consumption and no moving parts. It is highly reliable and expected to last minimum 3 years.
The technology breakthrough is our patented fog generation system shown working in the video to the left. Within low cost protective growth chambers, differently-engineered fogs are provided to the roots and foliage resulting in many cycles of crop harvesting in a year with low risk – independent of weather and climate change effects.
Unlike other hydroponic systems the fog droplets allow each plant to receive the same amount of water and nutrients irrespective of where it is in the poly-tunnel thereby ensuring higher overall crop yields.
We use an A-frame structure with its own covering inside the poly-tunnels with several A-fames per tunnel. With our racking system the number of plants per square meter can be considerably higher than for arable land and hence our yield per unit area is very high indeed.
Successful trials growing potatoes were carried out by one of UK’s leading growers and distributers in 2017. These proved the concept and by scaling up the results, gave annual yields of approximately 500 tons per acre of baby potatoes (versus approximately just 11 tons using conventional agriculture).
Airponix have leased their own 1,000 sqm glasshouse facility in Norfolk where we are carrying out our extensive R&D programme (including a number of growth enhancement technologies) and demonstration trials. In 2018 we successfully grew 3 varieties of micro potatoes, sweet potatoes, raspberry long canes, wheat, tomatoes and grape vines. All survived the unusually high temperatures over 12 weeks, often reaching 45 deg c within the glasshouse.
Also we are currently demonstrating a range of specialist vegetables for a major grower.
The Airponix system is suitable for large scale food producers through to small family scale independent/subsistence farmers – on any land surface from urban areas to desert. It is economical for staple crops such as potatoes, rice, grapes, carrots, maize and many others with the vision/intention to help to solve world hunger.
We have protected our IP through patents covering various aspects of the fog generation and distribution system as well as the way in which nutrients are mixed and introduced into the fog.
Our commercial approach is to work with partners who share our enthusiasm and to work together to test new crop opportunities and to develop a commercial business based upon the Airponix technology. We have started in the UK but are keen to work in other markets and have already begun to develop new partnerships internationally.
Summary of Benefits
In our short video, John Prewer presents the Airponix system at the Rothamsted Open Innovation Forum on 18 January 2017. He lists the thirteen beneficial functions of the system.