Eponic Agriculture Co. Ltd is a supplier of indoor farming equipment. Alice, the company's director, introduced the recently fully automated production system of a stereochemical vertical farm.
"The current three-dimensional indoor farms on the market are based on semi-automated workflow, with some links requiring additional equipment configuration and no continuity in the whole planting system. In order to solve this problem, we developed and designed a complete automated planting system, including the processes from sowing to planting, full-spectrum planting light control, fertilization, harvesting and cleaning. Which are all done by automated equipment. Whereas all procedures can be controlled by intelligent software with real-time monitoring, data collection and many other functions."
Benefits of an automated farm
When talking about the advantages of the automated equipment, Alice said, "Take our recently built 20-layer vertical farm as an example. First of all, the mechanical sowing time is 10 times-30 times faster than manual sowing. And on top of that, the use of automated equipment can realize precise planting and efficient communication of multi-layer planting surfaces. The 20-layer vegetable trays are automatically transferred to the ground for uniform watering, harvesting and cleaning. This greatly improves productivity.
Secondly, the use of lift trucks is required when handling high-level crops. There are certain safety hazards in using lift trucks in a small space. While operating the automated equipment, only a tablet computer is needed to control the whole planting process, which is much safer and more convenient."
Although automated vertical farm systems have many advantages, their application in China is not yet popular. "In terms of production design, we have gone through countless experiments to design the most suitable software program. As well as hardware equipment for practical planting applications. Luckily after a long period of research, we finally chose the most cost-effective and suitable materials. The R&D investment is large and time-consuming.”
From a cost point of view, according to Alice, a fully automatic system is 2-3 times higher in costs than the semi-automatic system which is currently used more often. Most traditional agricultural companies find it difficult to accept such high initial costs. Thirdly, the automated system requires high technical requirements for farm managers. Managers need to have an understanding of both planting technology and software. Alice adds: “It is for these three reasons that the application of fully automated stereoscopic systems is not very common in China and other countries."
"Although the application is not yet widespread, I think fully automated stereoscopic planting is a trend. Urbanization has led to a reduction in arable land and soil pollution has triggered problems with pests and pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables, and the development of three-dimensional agriculture is the only way to maximize and optimize output in a limited area. Currently, stereoscopic planting plants still require a lot of manual labor to operate. As labor costs rise and planting techniques require more precision, the use of automated equipment will be a future trend," Alice notes.
"Automated systems are a trend, not only in China but also globally. Urbanization has been moving forward, in the face of soil pollution, pesticides and pests, etc. The planting area is gradually reduced and three-dimensional agriculture must be developed in order to quantify planting. Three-dimensional agriculture can be located near the city, and reduce the transport distance, people can eat the freshest vegetables, to achieve local supply. Therefore it is necessary to promote automated, intelligent planting systems in order to achieve efficient planting and sustainable development." Alice said.
Eponic Agriculture Co. Ltd's head office, Dahua Intelligent Electronics, has a twenty-five-year history division. The team has been focusing on the development and production of intelligent control systems and industrial lighting. Alice said that based on years of technical foundation, we developed full-spectrum LED planting lights which have been approved and applied by the USDA. Over the years, we have received technical support and affirmation from several agricultural doctors from Europe and the United States, focusing on the development and production of automated stereoscopic planting equipment.
According to Alice, the company has laboratories and showrooms in the US, Australia and Africa. This year, the company is planning on opening new showrooms and laboratories in Europe. “We are expanding our global reach and continue to optimize our growing systems to be a better supplier of fully automated growing equipment."