Dryponics® - How Farmers Cut lifts Indoor Vertical Farming to the next level

By Farmers Cut

‘What is Dryponics’? We get asked that question ever since we first started the farm. Other questions include what’s the difference to other cultivation methods? and why do we use a different method to begin with?

We have even received emails letting us know that we need to correct this typo on our website saying - ‘You mean ‘Hydroponics’, not  'Dryponics’. Although the word might look like a typo, we really do mean ‘Dryponics’. To be fair, we haven’t really explained Dryponics in too much detail thus far. But we’ve heard that many of you are interested in our new cultivation method and with this article we are happy to raise the veil and shed some light on Dryponics.

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How we got into developing our proprietary cultivation technology

Back in 2014, our co-founder Mark had the chance to taste a rocket salad cultivated in an indoor vertical farm for the first time in his life. Overwhelmed by the taste and convinced by the concept of growing hyper-locally in city centers without using pesticides, he started digging into the field of Indoor Vertical Farming. Shortly after, Mark shared his enthusiasm for indoor farming with our co-founder Isabel and they decided to join forces to search for a turn-key indoor farming system and then hash out the marketing and sales side.

The disappointment did not take long to follow. After endless conversations, and meetings with international indoor farming and horticulture experts we realized that we were walking towards a dead end. Having internalized the shortcomings of existing indoor farming systems that highly respected Prof. Kozai pointed out perfectly in his book ‘Plant Factory’, we had our ideal farm system in mind - a system that apparently none of the experts seemed to be capable of providing.

We knew that we would only go into indoor vertical farming if we manage to lift it to the next level and realized we had to develop our own system if we want to get optimal efficiency for maximal scalability. That was the moment when Dryponics was born.

 Farmers Cut Co-Founder Mark Korzilius at The AgLanta Conference, where Mark first publicly revealed the company's proprietary growing substrate.    

Farmers Cut Co-Founder Mark Korzilius at The AgLanta Conference, where Mark first publicly revealed the company's proprietary growing substrate.    

Now, what is Dryponics?

Having successfully tested our prototype in 2016 in Holland, we built our large scale farm in 2017 as a pilot on our current 2000sqm location in Hamburg, Germany to validate our concept from seeding to harvesting. With our current farming surface we are replacing traditional cultivation land with a ratio of 1:300, making Dryponics a strikingly efficient system.

Our Dryponics technology is based on three pillars: Full climate control, full automation, and a unique cultivation method enabling compact, modular and high-quality plant growth. These pillars are the core of our entire farm from seeding to harvesting. At the heart of our processes lie our farmhouses - completely closed propagation units with no pathways guaranteeing constant and fully regulated climate in every layer from ground to ceiling.

 All farm processes are designed for full automation cutting out tedious tasks and risk of error from seeding, germination, propagation to harvesting.

All farm processes are designed for full automation cutting out tedious tasks and risk of error from seeding, germination, propagation to harvesting.

 

What is the difference between Dryponics and other indoor cultivation methods?

While indoor vertical farms commonly use hydroponic systems, our plants grow under optimized conditions. We use a proprietary growth substrate which keeps the roots dry. The root system stays on top of the substrate, while absorbing the nutrients in the water. Why? This unique approach gives us three key advantages:

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Efficiency: Our proprietary substrate together with our hardware technology allows for flatter water basins underneath the substrate in each layer. With the reduced space between the stacked layers our farmhouse is highly compact and climate efficient with photon loss being reduced to the minimum.

Water savings: Less water in the basin underneath our substrate means circulating less water in the entire irrigation system. We proved to use 68% less water than known hydroponic systems and 37% less water than aeroponic systems.

More real estate options: Less water underneath each cultivation area also means less weight per square meter. Having less weight on the floor area, we are not limited by statical calculations of the building. We can perfectly use existing buildings such as former factories or warehouses without adapting the real estate as our closed farmhouses operate independently from its surrounding building.

Transferring our Dryponics concept to the consumer with our Harvest on Demand approach

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With Dryponics, our salads come out of our farm as living plants, with the roots intact. Thus, the plants continue to grow even after leaving the farm keeping their nutrient level and freshness up until consumption. Our living salads are directly delivered from our farm to the consumer. There’s no middlemen or cooling chain required, whatsoever. Customers get our living salads at local restaurants, cantinas, on farmers markets or directly delivered to the doorstep!

All Farmers Cut greens only get harvested seconds before consumption by the consumer himself or the chef. This is how we guarantee that the most flavorful and nutritious greens are delivered truly from farm to fork - that’s what we call harvest on demand!

 Farmers Cut Co-Founder Mark Korzilius (sixth from left) meets with local officials and Agritecture Consulting after the AgLanta Conference 2018.

Farmers Cut Co-Founder Mark Korzilius (sixth from left) meets with local officials and Agritecture Consulting after the AgLanta Conference 2018.