Aponic Aeroponics and Aquaponics for Life

Welcome to our blog, we will keep this updated every time we have some news for you!

Aponic Salad Wall Launch at the Royal Norfolk Show

Wow! We have now got all of our injection moulds and extrusion dies together and we can start our first production run.

To celebrate this, we have been chosen to be in the Innovation Zone  at the Royal Norfolk Show by AgriTech East for our Salad Wall product launch.

What an event! Despite the soaring temperatures, we were visited by Look East to video an interview, all of the local papers and Farming Today with Anna Hill who has done a masterful job of cutting the interview to make it fast and graspable for the listeners, am so pleased.

Thanks to Belinda Clarke and Becky Dodds for organising the show and making it fun and productive for us all, and thank you to Harvey, without whom none of this would have been possible!

 

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Installation at BT Innovation Centre

Installation at BT Innovation Centre

Today we installed a small system in BT's Adastral Park Innovation Showcase, it is an indoor system that runs under an LED grow light system. As it is a self contained system, all they have to do is make sure the water is topped up and add some nutrient solution every two weeks to keep the plants thriving. We planted this system with basil and mint as the combination of the two aromas fills the room it is in a treat.

While I was installing it, Etholle George from BBC Radio Suffolk was recording for her show and popped in to see how I was doing. It was lovely to see her again and I did a cheeky plug for Aponic in a mini interview with her.

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Just a glimpse under the hood before we start

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All set and ready to switch on

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Yikes that is bright!

We are working on our microprocessor control unit that will report the nutrient levels, temperatures and humidities to a phone app so that you can keep an eye on your grow tubes when you are at work or on holiday. In this case it will output the results to a big screen next to the grow tubes in the innovation centre.

Recent Comments
Jason Hawkins-Row
Just say the word John and I will fill your world with peas!
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 16:37
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Aponic Prototype Strawberry Growing Station

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Vertical Aquaponic Growing

Vertical Aquaponic Growing

I was just asked to outline the relative benefits of vertical aquaponic growing so I whizzed this together but it might be useful to other journalists or just for interest. Anyway. I broke it down as follows:

Vertical:

Tube AssemblyThis gives a far more efficient use of space in as much as in the foot print of one of our growing tubes which is approximately 150 x 120 mm we can grow a 1, 2 or 3 metre row of fruit, veg or flowers for cutting. Essentially we are turning acreage into volume.

It also allows us to mount this vertical allotment onto a Fence or wall so that the plants can use previously untapped space in gardens, on allotments, in greenhouses or grow very efficiently in poly tunnels on light, airy and easy to assemble frames.

It means that they are ergonomic to work on at waist level without bending constantly. It is also worth noting that the tubes can be removed for working with to harvest, plant and deal with any problems that might arise if needs be. They can be mounted lower down so that people in wheel chairs can truly enjoy gardening again and because there is no digging and weeding and no heavy lifting or bulky materials, and this is something that they can do in a totally independent way.

This method also raises the plants off of the ground to eliminate pests like rabbits, dogs, children etc from damaging the plants. In an elevated position, they are not being affected by soil based pathogens either, in fact it does mean that we can grow in town centres on contaminated land if we want to as we do not touch the soil at all. This allows super productive farms in town where local people can be employed to tend high return crops in normal clothing and the fruit and vegetables are used where they are produced which massively reduces transportation.

Aquaponic:

fishIn an aquaponic system you can achieve two crops of fish and greenery with relative ease. The Soil association have now agreed that this can also be classified as an organic process so the final quality of the crop is outstanding.

Combining the filter medium and the grow tubes creates a series of ‘trickle towers’ which in terms of biological waste digesting are a bit of a holy grail as they dissolve massive amounts of oxygen into the water which benefits the useful bacteria that turns the fish waste into Nitrates and also ensures the health and wellbeing of the fish in the system.

While this method pretty straightforward to existing fish keepers, it can be a lot of husbandry and a little daunting to someone with limited time so we also make a version of our product that allows for straight forward nutrient solutions to be used to remove the need for the constant care of the fish.

What it does do is reduce the inputs into the system as essentially all you really have to do is feed the fish.

Growing:

fresh vegWe chose to design our system for many reasons but this method is the most efficient, sustainable, non-labour intensive and repeatable method we know of, I will try to outline some of the major advantages for you:

1.       Water saving – as we constantly recirculate the water in our system, we save up to 90% of the water usually used when growing in traditional soils based methods. The energy saving of this alone is amazing but the use of water in the very near future will become a critical issue.

2.       Adjustable – we can set up systems to grow plants that like very specific pH levels or nutrient densities that can otherwise only be grown in particular places in the world.

3.       Organic – This is a truly organic way to grow, the fish waste method works beautifully, in fact when you add some ordinary worms to the growing media, the quality and yields grow exponentially.

4.       Sustainable – this is genuinely sustainable horticulture, the efficiencies built into our systems mean they can very easily be run on solar power so you just have to catch the rain water to start the process off.

5.       Modular – you can use the grow tubes individually at home or in huge arrays commercially, we have been asked to supply a customer to grow 450 acres of strawberry growing grow tubes. They are all the same grow tubes and still work in exactly the same way.

6.       Achievable – people of almost any physical ability, people with very little space, people with very busy lives can all achieve perfect and plentiful results using this method of growing.

7.       Non Polluting – as everything is recirculated, nothing ends up leaching into our rivers and aquafers. The targeted nature of circulating the nutrients straight through the roots means that all of the nutrient is used and very much smaller amounts have to be added to achieve spectacular growth.

8.       Quality – we regularly hold blind taste tests and almost without fail, our aquaponic crops are identified as very noticeably more flavoursome.

9.       Controllable – we can grow all year round when growing under cover using super efficient  LED lighting to supplement the light in the autumn / winter time. We can determine when the crop fruits chemically if we need to and we can precisely meet the needs of our plants.

10.   Future proof – we are increasing being told about the importance of water prudence and that we are finding it more difficult to grow enough food to meet an ever swelling population. As an individual, when you ask what is being done about this, the answer is usually that ‘someone’ is doing huge research and massive companies are working on new chemicals. I found this totally disempowering so I designed something that we all can do as individuals that can really make a difference on the demands made on our environment that are currently damaging it forever. If only three of four families in every street grew produce for themselves, and maybe shared it with neighbours, we could make a real difference for ourselves and future generations.

Over all, we have created a way to banish the hard graft that has held most people back from sustainably producing their food. Now even children can do this, in fact many do, and they are learning that they can feed themselves with real food with real flavour with just a few minutes work a week and they are totally loving the results.

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The Importance of Water Efficiency

The Importance of Water Efficiency

Aponic has designed and developed and patented a vertical modular growing system that enables you to grow fruit and vegetable crops both domestically, and commercially, using 90% less water when compared with traditional growing methods, saving space, energy, climate damage and making it possible for enough food to be grown by everybody, all year round, in an easy and rewarding way.

There is a finite amount of water on the planet and with the population boom, the amount of water per head is rapidly declining.  Something has to be done to balance the books in terms of energy, water and efficiency of the growing process and our method saves 90% of the water used for growing fruit and vegetables so that water can be used elsewhere in the water cycle. This means we use less energy to get the water to the plants and the run off is recirculated rather than released into the environment. We use growing space more efficiently with the vertical growing method and the need for manual labour and soil turning machinery is reduced to a bare minimum.

We are at a tricky stage in human history where we need to produce enough food to feed a rapidly growing population but we not only have to protect the environment but allow it to heal from previous abuse. We hope that by efficiently growing food where it is consumed in urban farms, greenhouses, gardens, conservatories and even balconies, we can ease the pressure on the soil based production and significantly reduce water and energy usage.

Aponic has created a sustainable, practical and enjoyable way for everyone to ease the pressure on the environment by providing them with the means to grow organic, non GMO, clean fresh fruit and veg all year round without digging or weeding.

 

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What a Month!

So, we got our grant from Eastern Agritech which means we can now develop the injection molds we need to make our commercial version of the vertical growing tubes.

William Millar of New Anglia LLP also get involved and we got invited to display at the iExpo innovation show hosted by BT.

We got our patent filed just hours before set-up for the New Anglia iExpo at BT's Martlesham HQ thanks to Dummett Copp Patent Attorneys.

We eventually set up our prototype grow tubes on the morning before the show and were kept busy all day with some really enthusiastic social enterprise officers, farmers, lecturers and researchers and investors. We now have a stack of really interesting people to catch up with and some very interesting leads and ideas to follow up on.

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As we have been so enthused from the reaction of the visitors on this show we will be booking more shows and will let you know which ones and when as we book them.

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Geo Thermal Batteries

I have just seen a great idea, a vent pipe is run from the top of your poly tunnel or greenhouse through a fan which forces the air into underground soil pipe buried under the floor in a grid to re-emerge at the other end of the building. This takes the very hot air from the top of the roof down into the soil pipe 'heat exchanger' and during the day it cools the air and keep the maximum temperatures of the tunnels down, then at night the exchanged heat is released as the air flows through the grid to help to take the coldest extremes up in temperature too. 

This smooths out the peaks and troughs of temperature very efficiently and saves on those heating headaches.

I will be incorporating this in our commercial builds from now on.

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Aponic Launch

Hello, we are now ready to launch Aponic Aquaponics, we have several goals that we want to achieve as follows:

We want to reduce the food miles your vegetables travel to just food yards. We are producing a range of aquaponic units which can sit in your conservatory and provide you with fresh vegetables of certain origin and quality with the minimum of effort and with the minimum input or your resources. Growing your veg at home can not only reduce the water used to grow them (Aquaponics uses only 2% or the water used in agriculture) but also reduce wastage, if you decide not to eat your lettuces this week, they will keep and carry on growing in the system rather than becoming slime in your fridge.

Likewise we are producing a range of larger units to sit at your local farm shop so that you can buy vegetables grown on site and fresh from the system with the same efficiency built in and again, no food wastage or shelf life issues. The veg can be harvested in the shop for you to take home.

As so much interest has been shown for commercial ventures using our systems, we can easily scale up our systems to cover acres and because we utilise vertical growing tubes, it maximises floor space turning 10 arces into 40 acres growing area.

We hope you enjoy our products and look forward to hearing from you with any questions you may have.

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Awards and Memberships

Suffolk Greenest County Award Winner 2016  Small Business Saturday UK 2016 Logo Blue 250 q3trFrnm 400x400gea winner fsbnewangliasuffolkgreenestsccgreen 100masincrops