Definition of aeroponics : the growing of plants by suspending their roots in the air and spraying them with nutrient solutions
The Plant Factory makes use of an aeroponic irrigation system. This type of irrigation brings a lot of benefits in growing and plants health. For example; by exposing the roots to oxygen all day, around the clock, the system promotes healthier plants that grow faster than in other mediums. It also brings other advantages compared to different watering solutions, space usage and maintenance for example is brought to a minimum which brought us a lot of opportunities designing the Plant Factory and its distinctive systems.
To get the full potential out of aeroponics and the use of space, we developed our own vertical grow towers. On top of the movable towers a stationary nozzle is placed which blows the nutritious water in the form of mist inside, directly on the roots. The plugholders hold the plants in the perfect position so the maximum amount of water and nutrients can be collected and no water leaks out on the outside, thus preventing leaf rot. Rest water falls down the tower in to the drain underneath.
In the front of the PF stands the central irrigation unit. This unit prepares the water in the main tank to the right conditions as set in the computer. Before the water leaves the unit, it goes through the measuring line in which 2 EC- and 2 PH sensors are located. The first sensors in line measure the EC and PH levels for the computer to add nutrients and acid if needed. The second sensors are for checking the correctness of the 1st measurements. If in some case both measurements turn out different, the computer gives an alarm so you will be notified to call the sensors.
The irrigation unit is equipped with 2 liquid -A&B- fertilizer-barrels which connected to the main tank by automatic dosing valves. The EC sensors measure the water and if the nutritional level gets too low, the computer automatically doses small pulses of fertilizer to the main tank, adjusting the EC to the set level. The same goes for the PH level, an acid barrel and valve is installed to bring down the PH level if sensors point out its needed. However, some initial water conditions ask the need for lye to bring the PH level up. If the source water examination points that out, we’ll install a separate lye barrel with an additional dosing valve.
Several floats measure the water level in the main tank and signal an approval via the computer for the drain water to be pumped back in to the main tank. When the water level gets too low, fresh water is pumped from the fresh water tank in to the main tank to keep it filled up all the time. In case the fresh water tank is empty, the computer will give an alarm so you’ll be notified in good time.
In the Plant Factory all water is reused. The water given by the aeroponic system which isn’t absorbed by the roots is guided by the grow towers to the various drainage channels. When ended up in the drain tank, the water is pumped back in to the main tank so no valuable ingredients are disposed. The water that is absorbed by the plants and then evaporated is caught by the dehumidification process in the HVAC unit. This is then returned to the fresh water tank where it’s ready to be reused and being fed to the plants.