Mobile aeroponic system requires less maintenance and guarantees even irrigation

Everyone is talking about sustainability and ways to reduce operational costs while doing – possibly – more. A cultivation method that addresses all of that is aeroponic. At the same time, setting up a large-scale aeroponic greenhouse is a huge task. That’s where the Swiss company CleanGreens Solutions comes into play. “We design mobile aeroponic systems for the production of leafy greens in greenhouses and its companion app,” says Bernhard Baumgartner, Commercial Director of CleanGreens Solutions. “This puts us in a unique market position, as there are really just a few suppliers like us globally.”

CleanGreens system is composed of a transportation system, entry and exit conveyor, and modules. Below everything, a moving robot sprays the roots with a nutrient mist. “This robot allows for even and especially uniform irrigation throughout the greenhouse but also allows to modify irrigation parameters during the growth cycle. Mainly, we have taken away the risk of nozzles getting clogged by design. The robot indeed has a low number of nozzles, namely 72 for an area up to 1’000m2, with a special shape that prevents them from getting clogged.” On top of that, the robot can be easily extracted from the cultivation line. “This greatly facilitates maintenance, which is usually a huge issue when it comes to aeroponic systems.” Bernhard indeed points out that none of the growers he worked with has ever had any clogging.

Greenova system installed with ‘Les Crudettes’ in France in an 8’000 m2 greenhouse

Fixed systems vs. moving robot
Bernhard says that they designed such a moving robot because of the inherent issue of fixed aeroponic systems. “In a fixed aeroponic system, you have several nozzles per square meter. This means that if you have a 10,000 sqm greenhouse, you have potentially tens of thousands of nozzles. That doesn’t only put a strain on the CAPEX, but it’s also additional maintenance. So, a grower would pay someone to go check and maintain the nozzles regularly. Operationally speaking, it’s a nightmare to do. On top of that, it’s very difficult to evenly irrigate plants with a fixed system at scale, especially since the quality of the droplets is very pressure sensitive and would require a complex piping layout. With our system, we guarantee that the irrigation droplets remain of high quality, regardless of where these are delivered to the roots. The mobility of our robot saves growers from this burden. This is because it sprays at regular intervals. There’s a lower number of nozzles, positively impacting maintenance costs. The robot wouldn’t solve the issue with labor, but it would surely save a grower from requiring more of it.”

Support is paramount
CleanGreens Solutions also closely follows up with their clients. “We sell the equipment and install it for our customer. And then, we designed a ‘care package’ to help the grower throughout cultivation, but also if they want to ramp up the production. We have agronomists who would be directly in contact with the growers and would do site visits through the first cycles of production. We came up with this service because we want our customers to be successful, for a simple reason: our system is super high-tech and very modern. Growers opting for this are visionaries and early adopters. We need to provide them with the peace of mind to operate with such a unique technology. This is something that is on us, not on the grower.”

Exactly for ease of use, the system comes together with software that allows a grower to easily operate every aspect of the operation. “The software has two main functions,” Bernhard explains. “It can do everything in the greenhouse and keeps track of what is happening in the cultivation and who is taking care of that specific job. So, for instance, it would know what every operator is doing daily but would also know that specific modules need to be harvested and others to be washed and sanitized. One of the features of the software is indeed an alert system that notifies a grower when action is required.”

The utmost attention to the details CleanGreens Solutions has put into the design of its large-scale aeroponic is providing good results to the companies. “We are switching gears right now,” he says. “We will be commissioning two large-scale projects in Europe and in the Middle East, and even more will be coming online soon. At the same time, we are looking at different markets. On top of Europe, the Middle-east is a big area we want to cover, and our system fits perfectly in that region’s strategy for food safety and security. North America, of course, is a market we want to enter too. Anyway, regardless of where we go first, our main driver will always be to keep improving our system to lower the OPEX and improve the yield even more.”

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