While it seems to many to be a fairly new technology, growing plants hydroponically is actually an ancient system dating back to the hanging gardens of Babylonian and Aztec cultures. Used intermittently through the ages, the technique of growing plants in soil-less environments was perfected in the 1940’s. The last three quarters of a decade has brought a tremendous amount of technological growth to the science, advancing not only commercial hydroponic growing systems but also developing systems which are easy to use and manage by home growers or small-scale operations. Hydroponics, as well as so many other facets of agriculture, stands to benefit greatly from technologies being developed and introduced to the industry. These 10 companies are making huge strides with their hydroponic innovations.
This Canadian startup has designed an app-controlled home growing system that is intended to make growing small batches of organic produce easier. Their product is not only technologically sophisticated, but has been designed with a trendy aesthetic in mind, looking more like a piece of furniture than a grow box. Users input information about the plant they are growing into the app and then Grobo will monitor, water, and give proper nutrients to whatever you’re growing.
Plants are also kept at the right temperature, a filter system keeps smells to a minimum, and “smart glass” switches from transparent to opaque to provide plants the right amount of light. Grobo is making it possible for anyone to grow plants with only the push of a button.
One of the best ways to maximize output when growing plants is to take advantage of vertical space. Bright Agrotech out of Wyoming is at the forefront of this technology, helping small farmers serve their local markets. They offer a variety of products and services and are the leader of high density, practical, and productive vertical farming equipment.
Bright Agrotech has taken a very real problem facing agriculture – the diminishing lack of space for food production – and devised a real-life, applicable solution that is changing indoor production from the bottom up.
With options ranging from simple controllers to full systems, Cloudponics is offering growing technologies to help home hydroponics systems. The Cloudponics GroBox is a fully automated smart hydroponics growing system that allows homeowners with little to no experience to grow plants in the comfort of their home. Growers use the mobile app to select what they want to grow, plant seeds, and the automated system takes control.
The GroBox monitors air temperature and humidity, turning extractions fans on/off to maintain conditions; lights are turned on and off according to plant stage; and the system adjusts pH of the growing solution, delivering nutrients according to plant stage and behavior.
Made for growers, by growers, SmartBee Controllers offers smart, wireless products providing full control of greenhouse and indoor growing systems. All levels of gardeners can have tools at their fingertips to control production while saving time and money.
Modular components allow you to choose what features to add, with the ability to theoretically have up to 65,000 sensors networked through the main control unit. Smart Bee’s multiplatform web app provides real time data to growers to give them the best tools to control their crop.
In a nondescript building nestled in Silicon Valley sits a greenhouse where robots are used to carefully seed, plant, and water lettuce crops. The operation is run on natural energy from the sun, with no pesticide use, and only non-GMO varietals planted. The twist? The entire operation is automated from start to finish, a revolutionary idea that has been unheard of – until now – in greenhouse systems.
Iron Ox is also developing machine learning algorithms to detect early stage diseases, culling plants quickly before an infestation spreads and removing underdeveloped plants that are failing to thrive. This results in an intelligently efficient system that performs the repetitive tasks of greenhouse farming much more quickly and precisely than its human counterpart.
Earth Prime Inc.'s concept of a compact hydroponic gardening unit won them a nomination for Idea Village’s 2015 Big Idea Challenge. Earth Prime envisions a day when everyone has access to fresh produce; their hope is that their invention will speed the process. An innovative design automates the entire growing process, taking the hard work and guesswork out of hydroponic gardening while creating edible architectural art for homeowners.
Their beautifully designed systems can be used alone, inside or out, or can be combined to create stunning pergolas and outdoor structures. Currently in alpha development, Earth Prime is creating a gardening app that places all of the knowledge of seasoned gardeners at the fingertips of a user. It can be used as a standalone gardening assistant or combined with smart sensors to form the ultimate smart home gardening experience.
The idea behind Urban Cultivator came to founder Tarren Wolfe when his wife could not eat most commercial produce because of the pesticides applied in the growing process. Her allergies inspired him to create a system that allows homeowners to grow their own organic vegetables, herbs, and micro greens in their kitchen. The Residential model has the ability to grow up to four flats of fresh micro greens, vegetables, and herbs, and the Commercial model can grow up to 16 flats.
More recently, they’re putting their technology to use in a different way. Using their growing appliances, Urban Cultivator has created Living Produce Aisle – aiming to bring fresh produce to every neighborhood, giving everyone access to healthy food. This unique storefront allows consumers to come in and purchase flats of greens without needing to have their own growing system.
With a goal to support the advancement of sustainable agriculture, Thrive Agritech began by focusing on high efficiency, user-friendly LED grow lights for controlled growing environments such as greenhouses and hydroponics systems. Their patent-pending technologies produce photosynthetic light optimized for plant growth, energy efficiency, and reliability.
In 2017 they filed their first controls and systems patents and announced an astonishing promise that their LED technology could be used as an effective replacement for chemical treatments to fight downy mildew. While the company lives and breathes LEDs, watch for them to branch out as their focus grows to encompass more than just lighting.
One of the largest recurring costs for hydroponics growers is replacing growing media as it breaks down in the process. Some kinds also leave behind residue that needs to be continuously cleaned out, or promote fungus and bacteria growth (rockwool and cotton cubes are notorious offenders). The founder of VegBed set out to find a better solution that was clean, easy to use, and wouldn’t break the bank.
VegBed seedling foam is a perfect way to germinate plants, which then allows them to be easily transferred to a system of choice after germination. Their current focus is on their Grow Cube product, but the company is looking to integrate related growing products into their company in the future.
The company’s Vios growing system is helping to revolutionize the way people grow and eat food. Their soil-less system uses 90% less water resources and is 10 times more efficient than traditional growing methods. Smart hydroponic technology allows users to control Vios through a mobile or desktop app, putting control at their fingertips.
Their smart growing system allows people to grow up to 30 plants including fruits and vegetables without the struggles associated with maintaining a garden. It uses hydroponic technology, special LED growing lights, and a self-regulated watering system all combined in a beautiful piece of interior design that looks great in your home. The social aspect however, is at the core of the company’s project! For every system purchased, one is donated to a family or community in need.