Assessing an Indoor Multi-Level Growing System
Zwart Systems has designed a multi-level growing system aimed at the micro greens, cannabis and vegetable industry. Currently, the market believes that to grow floating lettuce requires 6″ to 12″ of continuously moving water. This is at great expense to the grower from a number of standpoints, water usage is chiefly among them. Other factors include the cost of the system infrastructure to achieve this water depth, as well as difficulties managing the waste water. The Zwart system has four-levels, utilizing the bottom level for ebb and flow production, while the remaining three levels are equipped with misting nozzles, ideal for seed germination or cutting propagation. The multi-level Zwart growing system aims to conserve water and space, as prices for both resources continue to soar for greenhouse operators.
To help determine any product improvements required, and to validate the engineering of the system, Niagara College has overseen and analyzed an assortment of crops – specifically lettuce and tropical plants. The multi-level growing system proved to be a successful design for lettuce seed germination and tropical plant cutting propagation. With structural changes, such as the introduction of grow lights, reducing the size of the plug that moderates water level, and incorporating a pump filter, the ebb and flow bottom table has the potential to produce marketable lettuce in a recycling water system, using comparatively lower water levels than traditional ebb and flow or deep-water culture methods.
Funding: Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) through the College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) program and the NC-led Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN).