deep water raft systems

Last week, the finishing touches were put on the Biogarden greenhouse installation in Yoncalla, Oregon. The result is a dynamic growing system with control panel for automated liquid fertilizer management, a series of 40′ grow systems for deep water culture and 20 Biogarden grow systems for aggregate beds and for making organic liquid fertilizer. The 4, 1100 gallon storage tanks are underground. Two are plumbed to support deep water ebb and flow cycles for the 40′ beds. The other two store concentrated liquid nutrients, also made in the greenhouse with an ‘NPK Brewery’ Biogarden and water from the well that was drilled last year.


Building an NPK Brewery to make liquid fertilizer

Here I’m setting up an ‘NPK Brewery’, as we call it, for creating organic liquid fertilizer. This 20′ module at the greenhouse farm Bioponica​ developed and installed for a client. The Biogarden Brewery has two tanks and produces a total of 600 gallons of liquid fertilizer from biomass. Nitrogen PPM approaches 2500 in 7-10 days. This diyh processed liquid fertilizer can be used on the soil or in hydroponic drip lines. It’s sustainable – economically viable, available abundantly, and good for the community.

system for making liquid fertilizer

An high yield of produce anticipated in year one

The 3000 square foot greenhouse contains 1150 square feet of grow beds, proving a 35% space utilization. Space use is important in greenhouse growing as it reflects dollars per square foot of infrastructure. When beds are stacked vertically more space may be occupied. When there is plenty of working area and a greenhouse flows smoothly, growers can effectively harvest and maintain beds with minimum of effort. These features make up the framework for an efficient growing operation.

The first-of-its-kind NPK Brewery will continuously make liquid fertilizer from dry biomass provided by Bioponica.

Systems for Making Liquid Fertilizer

The future of farming is bright when young farmers are able to utilize innovations in agriculture technology such as those developed at Bioponica. Without soil to manage there will be less labor. With recirculation of water there are less resource demands on a modest supply of well water. By making fertilized water on-site, from inexpensive biomass blends, there is an independence and self reliance that the grower may anticipate for years to come. These features are important when outdoor growers are facing excessive rains, droughts and compromised soil conditions.

Automated control panel

hydroponic greenhouse control panel

This control panel looks simple but it manages a rather complicated array of functions. The panel supports four 1100 gallon underground storage tanks. One contains concentrated liquid nutrients made by the NPK Brewery plus there’s a tank storing well water. These tanks are used to blend a combination of water and fertilizer for tanks three and four which support the 40′ deep water sets of beds. Between the tanks and the total of 12 Biogarden beds, all water, fertilizer and blends are moved automatically from table to table and tank to tank.

Delivering water and nutrients

blending nutrients hydroponics

While nutrients are produced inside the greenhouse with the NPK Brewery, they are stored in one of four underground tanks. As seen in this image both water and nutrients are delivered to tanks that are then balanced to support the series of deep water 40′ grow beds. Whenever more nutrients are needed, the control panel is turned on to deliver from concentrated fertilizer tank. When water is needed the panel delivers water to the mix.

Creating fertility for these beds

soilless organic microgreens

Within 3 days of filling the tanks and troughs of the Biofarm grow beds, organic plants are germinated and growing. Within 40 days, there will be enough lettuce in this greenhouse to feed a small army. Plant fertility is entirely supported by organic liquid nutrients derived from inexpensive biomass, produced through a relatively simple process of aeration and biofiltration. Instead of purchasing fertilizers this site is sustainably making liquid fertilizer and effectively maintaining healthy plant growth through efficient soilless bioponics techniques.

A series of 40’ Deep water raft Biogarden systems for growing lettuces, microgreens, wheatgrass and basil.

This is a dual level double wide deep water system that extends 40′. With stacked vertical grow beds, lower level plants are protected from excess sunlight, making these beds ideal for lettuces and germinating all varieties of plants and microgreens. The upper beds are for direct sun loving plants. Growers may also use these deep water trough systems for raising crustaceans such as crawfish and shrimp or functional farm foods such as duckweed and algae to feed chickens and other farm animals. Raise all varieties of fish fry and other aquatic organisms.

20’ Biogarden aggregate filled grow beds

Aggregate beds are great for heavy feeding plants that require longer grow cycles and more stability for anchoring roots. These porous rock and biochar filled beds are a containment reservoir for abundant nutrients and rhizobacteria that colonize the beds along with earthworms, nematodes and protozoans. Behaving identical to soil beds, the beds contain all the nutrients, hormones and growth factors without typical soil born diseases and weed seeds.

soilless aggregate media beds

40’ Biogarden deep water culture grow beds

This is a series of 40′ Biogarden grow beds that have fixed rafts that accommodate a rise and falling water level to create root level aeration. The nutrient enriched water ebbs and flows from 1100 gallon underground tanks. The gravity flow with control panel functionality reduces pumping and simplifies the process. Solutions are blended by pumping nutrients from one underground tank plus well water from another into the tanks connected to the 40′ beds. This efficiency minimizes effort involved to top off beds with nutrients and water and minimizes labor associated with other deep water beds that are maximized for space utilization and organic plant production.

Bioponics Systems

The Biofarm greenhouse is upgraded and optimized to provide a controlled atmosphere environment

It is important to utilize efficient appliances and greenhouse construction in order to minimize cost of overhead due to heating and cooling. Evaporative coolers are an excellent way to manage the hot summer temperatures. This greenhouse will also soon be getting a shade cloth to minimize cooling and fan costs. A propane heater, insulated thermal space with the greenhouse cover and underground water tanks provide additional temperature regulation.