Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Automated lettuce seeder

We have been harvesting lettuce regularly since August, and at peak we were able to almost 20 kg of leaves from our 5 rooftop systems.  We have also started expanding behind the office on the ground floor as we ran out of roof space.
All this expanding means more plants.  More plants means more seeding, which involves putting one or two seed at the center of a 20x20mm foam cube.  That took 2 to 3 hours a week. So to ultimately reduce time I researched and built an automated lettuce seeder which I have open sourced on hackaday.
It takes about 3 minutes to seed a tray of 150 lettuce.  To see it in action watch this video:

Visit the hackaday site to find out how it's made:

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Latest pictures and video!

General View 


System automated by Wattmon

The new roof after the last got destroyed in a storm! 

We have the new nursery but since we cut the pipes in half we are fighting some leaks

Here the 3d printed solution that we still have to water proof!

Diente de leon! Gracias mama!!

We placed the tomatoes in buckets with a flood and drain system. 
Here the new formula that we created for them

Giant chillis on buckets

Melon de piel de sapo, always with diseases!

Mint, kang kong and epilobio in buckets 

Italian basil on buckets! we pump the water from the nursery tank and channel it back  

Top bed 

A lot has happened since our last post.  In early may our whole greenhouse roof blew off during a storm.  We then had to shut the system down while we rebuilt it all this time with a solid metal structure.  We now have about 1600 holes for growing lettuce and rucola, over 25 buckets for basil, tomatoes and cucumbers as well as mint and Kangkong.
The automation is fully operational since months.  The main 3 NFT beds are fully controlled, this includes filling up water when needed, adding nutrients and acid, and monitoring temperature, pH, EC, and nutrient stock tank volumes.
One bucket system is also connected to the automated reservoir - we have 13 buckets in series, water trickles in one end and back out to the nutrient reservoir at the other end.
The NFT system suffered a bit in summer because the water temperature was quite high, above 33 degrees C at times, but we were still able to grow lettuce although they did not get very large before bolting.
On average we harvest about 6kg per week of leaves from the system.  We sell it as gourmet lettuce with 4 or 5 varieties (romaine, oakleaf, butterhead, salad bowl) all mixed together.  They are packed in 200g bags and when refrigerated will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.
We have also sourced good quality foam for the seedlings and developed our own mold to cut the foam into cubes, we have foam pieces with 150 cubes, of 2x2 cm each.  Germination works extremely well even in very warm weather, with fresh lettuce we have close to 100%.
We have also started packaging our own brand of nutrient mix for leafy greens and we plan to sell that on ebay or to whomever is interested.  We have two mixes, one for summer and one for winter with slight variations in the nutrient content to account for temperature and light.
In the next post we will share a bunch of pictures of the various topics discussed in this blog post.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Helping a friend , Alok, to set up his system!!

Second and biggest hydroponic set up in Auroville

Plants inside the channel


Monday, January 11, 2016

Lettuce tested on the lab!!

Testing and research laboratory for water, soil and food products
Aurobrindavan, Auroville, T.N., India - 605101

Test Report
Customer name: Akash, Auroville.
Nature of sample: Plant material

Sample ID: Lettuce
Sample received: 23/12/15
Analysis completed: 31/12/15
Sample collected: by customer
Lab ID: 435

* Results on 100 gr of dry basis
No.    Parameters                                 Units Results*
1.       Nitrate Nitrogen (as NO3)            ppm 310
2.       Chloride (as Cl)                            ppm 4000
3.       Total Nitrogen (as K)                    % 5.35
4.       Total Phosphorous (as P)              % 0.82
5.       Total Potassium (as K)                  % 9.24
6.       Total Sodium (as Na)                    % 5.66
7.       Total Calcium (as Ca)                   % 3.31
8.       Total Magnesium (as Mg)             % 0.72
9.       Total Sulfur (as S)                         % 0.37
10.     Total Zinc (as Zn)                        ppm 68.3
11.     Total Copper (as Cu)                   ppm 9.63
12.     Total Iron (as Fe)                         ppm 382
13.     Total Manganese (as Mn)            ppm 567
14.     Total Boron (as B)                       ppm 33.7
15.     Total Nickel (as Ni)                     ppm < 0.1
16.     Total Lead (as Pb)                       ppm < 0.

Now expanding to see if we can make a second level...we will try to have it finish today!

perfect weather for Lettuce!! they are all happy!! WE collected 18 kg of lettuce leafs since 21st december!!