In order to configure for the highest possible plant density you would use the V2 two-netpot piece / V3 two-netpot piece the plant spacing is: vertically 30cm, horizontally 15cm. You can always use spacer pieces for larger plants either to just have one complete closed ring segment or alternate with them. In V2 there was a piece with one centered net pot. Using the one netpot piece vertical space can be increased to 30cm between your plants.
The diameter of a vertical barrel is always 57cm (circumference of 180cm/Pi). We always use 6 ring segment parts to assemble one full stackable ring segment.
For V2 there are 4 different positions to stack the ring segments on top of each other. For V3 there are 2. Each ring segment adds 15cm of high. The number of ring segments you stack is always variable.
We always run irrigation cycles on a timer, usually max once every hour during daytime and only 2-3 times during night time. Please check section A) on the configuration page.
Example barrel: 12 ring segments (built from 72 adapter parts) plus dome lid irrigation and base provides 144 grow spaces and is 2.0m high. if you add 2 more ring segments height (you need 12 more ring segment pieces) will be 2.3m providing 168 grow spaces. Irrigation does not change with that change, since we still have gravity for the additional 30cm vertical drip irrigation. This is done using the inside wing system built into the parts.
In order to calculate/plan the total number of grow spaces (density) we recommend you think about how to organize multiple barrel units in your cultivation area and start by calculating 3sqm per unit. See our integration section for examples and more details.
Key features of the aponix 3D-NFT platform:
- Shape: vertical cylinders we like to call them ‘barrels’, since they have a larger diameter like ‘towers’ and there are many tower solutions already out there. No fixed/blocking 2D stacked structures like racks. Height and positioning of units variable.
- Preferanbly used in greenhouses or naturally lit locations using natural sunlight as much as possible. Artificial lighting with LED stripes, vertical interlighting LED bars or with rotating barrels using lid base or a mix is possible but required custom integration.
- Also usable outside. Hidden feature of optional stainless steel ring hooks to tighten the top lid using three ribbons or strings. Example see this post from our facebook user group.
- Barrel surface for cultivation and plant spacing is configurable using our the V3 ring segment elements, where every piece provides two usable 2″ grow spaces. Adding our grow space covers, you can leave space for larger crops.
- For soilless use based on standard, generally available 2-inch net pots. Grow space diameter is 50mm. We also provide our own reusable plug pots with optional metal trellis insert.
- Height for each vertical barrel in a production line is variable. Stack as many ring segments as you wish. Here are some installation/integration examples. Usually soilless vertical barrels are 7 to 14 ring segments high so plants on every level can be seen and inspected by hand.
- Depending on the ideal integration setup for your case the aponix vertical barrel platform can be integrated with closed or draining bases. Also the closed bases can be interconnected with hoses and valves so the combined liquid content from all of your bases could be used as a master reservoir. In this case your pump would draw liquid from one master base and the others provide their liquid. This is for example different using a TowerGarden, where each tower uses only its own liquid and pump (!). This makes it very easy to integrate the aponix system into an existing aquaponic circulation. You can also integrate a floating valve to auto-refill (TowerGarden farm style).
- Positioning and number of vertical barrels used for production is variable and needs to be planned including own plumbing. Ideally barrel units are arranged in lines (see example setups) and just drain the liquid on the bottom. Nutrients are managed at a central point. Using the lid base a standard 40mm PVC draining pipe can be fixed by just placing lid bases carrying vertical barrels along a line.
- Aponix helps with small setups but does not provide other parts you will need to set up a fully functional production facility. The aponix vertical barrel starts where your ‘hose’ provides liquid and ends where the liquid drains on the bottom base. Circulation, fertilizer management, greenhouse, sales of produce etc is up to you. For more specialized and more complete solutions we are working with product partners. Aponix-DE is just the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and only source of the bare patented pieces.
- Irrigation is done by vertical drip using gravity. An inside wing structure directs and distributes the liquid evenly to root areas of inserted plants. Irrigation stays same regardless of the actual height. You can integrate also your own irrigation solutions. Please see our decision making page to understand the variations A) irrigation and B) drainage in each of your units..
- The roots hang freely inside the 57cm diameter vertical cylinder and can not clog the system. They are exposed to oxygen all the time. This might be important for longer term crops or herbs like mint or even basil you intend to harvest leaves from regularly and that have much larger root systems compared to lettuce or faster cycling crops. Using the revision part you can set up your units to be able to trim roots during a cycle. You could use multiple such revision piece in different places on your unit(s) to inspect or maintain the root systems during production cycles.
- You provide pre-grown seedlings ideally already grown in the right sized net pots or glue plugs without plastic. You are flexible using the medium and 2″ net pots of your choice or our reusable plug pots, which allow also to insert a plant trellis to support fruiting crops.
- Aponix does not provide nutrients. We assume users have enough horticulture knowledge on what nutrients their plants need and how to manage them. You can use any nutrients as long as they come in a liquid form – mineral, organic, extra-terrestrial – your choice.
- No full disassembly required for cleaning. Rinse with citric acid, vinegar or diluted bleach (optional, but dissolves carbonates and salts well) and use a small power washer on 2 to 4 still stacked ring segments to clean all areas. No parts flying/lying around. If this is new to you, please check standard procedures how NFT channels or rafts in DWC systems are sanitized and sterilized. It is the same with aponix vertical barrel components.
- Parts can be stored and shipped in a very compact way.
- Highest material quality possible, UV durability, hardness, longevity. The material for vertical barrel is ASA as highest uv resistant and food grade material possible. Even more so after end of life the material can be cycled 100% again into new pieces with the same properties (like with the initial raw material for making the molds) if it is homogenously collected, cleaned and processed .
- Plant density: We recommend to plan for 3sqm per vertical barrel. for a new farming setup. If you use higher units or closer units or moven them in an intelligent way you could also stack levels of units >=16 ring segments and even stack those and go as close as 1sqm per such stack. It just needs to be integrated in a maintainable way. We are looking for product partners to do this!
- Reminder: If you apply 2D cultivation thinking and methods, you probably end up with what you expected. For 3D cultivation you need to know your crops very well and plan for what they need to generate expected yield. Example: If UV radiation is at the threshold to deficient for your 2D cultivation area and you apply the same radiation to a 3D setup where you have many more plants in very different positions. Guess what the result will be. Even more, more deficient plants… If in doubt, please measure the amount of photons in critical spots and add what is missing to meet the requirement DLI (daily light integral) for your crop.
- No need to repeat the benefits of CEA (much less water, no herbicides, no run-off, 365 day production etc).
- Please think in CAPEX per grow space: If you spent ~530EURs for a vertical barrel providing 119 grow spaces, each grow space is around 4-5EURs. You will need to add the cost of your greenhouse and OPEX. But for the equipment, you might well be able to break even after 12 months (other equipment 1-2 years). And please remember the longevity of the parts when you compare aponix to other equipment. The material is supposed to have double the UV resistance than ABS. You can look that up.
Businessplan calculation example
Calculation basis for your business plan:
- Calculate with an average space per unit of 3sqm. If your cultivation area is 300sqm you can be running 100 units. That is the safe and conservative setup incl broad aisles and low enough units that can all be managed walking by hand. See setup examples on this page.
- We assume a unit is 12 ring segments high and equipped with pieces using 2 net pot inserts (highest density for herbs and lettuce). Every unit provides 144 2″ netpot grow spaces. Assume you have 100 units, that would be a total of 14400 individual grow spaces. if you go higher with your units you will have more grow spaces. If you go lower or change the plant size by using grow space covers you reduce the number of plants per unit accordingly for your personal calculation.
- We assume a 6 week cycle for your seedlings to maturity/harvest. It could be less or more. Please use your individual crop data or mix of crops if that is applicable accordingly.
- We assume a plant weight of 60g to 180g per mature plant (results actually grow in a research facility we are working with). This was the range in our official testings. Please put in your personal assumption plant weight you can grow. We use the average of 123g (which is at the very low end of what a professional grower should be growing).
Using the details this is example calculation you will grow in a 300sqm cultivation area using 100 12 ring segment vertical barrel units and the resulting 14400 grow spaces and a cycle time of 6 weeks resulting in a plant with marketable weight of 123g: Your output will be 2600 such plants every 6 weeks or 1600 plants every month or 197kg of produce a month.
For the size of your reservoir: If you are using the waterbuffer for irrigation, max 7 liters are in the waterbuffer at any time per unit. Finetuned and ideal would be much less. Lets assume incl reserve we calculate with 20 to 30 liters per unit. Assume you are running 100 units, you should plan for a reservoir that can hold at least 2000 liters, ideally 3000 liters.