think you know about hydroponics? check out dryponics

CONTENT SOURCED FROM AVF

OCTOBER 2017, Farmers Cut, a German based indoor farming startup, recently joined as a member of the Association for Vertical Farming. AVF’s newest member also brings the newest technology to the ‘ponics’ family, coined Dryponics, to the indoor farming industry. Thanks to the innovative team at Farmers Cut, Dryponic growing may soon spread from Germany to cities across the globe.

Farmers Cut was founded in 2015 by founders Mark Korzilius and Isabel Molitor. They are the first indoor vertical farm to operate out of Hamburg, Germany and the first company in the WORLD to coin and utilize Dryponic technology to grow leafy greens.

What is Dryponics? According to Ms. Molitor the technology originally emerged from the founders visions coming from the consumer perspective – they envisioned having a farming technology that enables keeping plants alive, with the roots intact, until the final moment before consumption. Together with Dutch horticulture engineers, the founders then developed and implemented the required system.

What makes Dryponics different is that unlike hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic systems, the roots of plants in the Dryponics systems are kept dry. Growing dryponically eliminates algae development on plant roots and helps reduce plant contamination. Above all, it allows to harvest the greens only seconds before consumption, as the roots stay with the plant from farm to table. That is what Farmers Cut calls ‘Harvest on Demand’.

Despite the emphasis on keeping the roots dry, Dryponics still utilizes water in very small amounts. Farmers Cut’s growing system utilizes around around 1 cm of water per growing bed vs. the traditional 10-15 cm used for hydroponics. This is possible due to the special growth medium where roots are exposed to higher amounts of oxygen vs. dissolved oxygen in water leading to overall better grow conditions.

 Lettuce growing in a vertical hydroponic system.

Lettuce growing in a vertical hydroponic system.

Once the pilot system is optimized, Farmers Cut’s farms will be fully automated and climate controlled, avoiding ‘stupid labour’ and eliminating the risk of contamination. The result is constantly fresh, great tasting leafy greens that have some of the best chef’s in Germany asking for more.

The farm is currently utilizing one farm house producing 80 kilograms of leafy greens a day. The company plans on building three additional farm houses in their current space which could produce an estimated 400 kilograms of leafy greens a day, supplying local restaurants and cafeterias, and in the long run end-consumers.

Farmers Cut is currently in the pilot phase and is focused on growing leafy greens, microgreens, herbs and cresses. While the greens grown during the pilot phase are only being sold in Germany, the company’s  future ambitions are to spread their Dryponic farms to the Middle East, Asia, and American markets.