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First North American grower to use Viscon's redesigned float system:

Canada: Mucci Farms invests in large scale, fully automated, hydroponic lettuce production

For many years, the technicians at Viscon have been working on automated and semi-automated floating deep water production systems. After developing, trialing and gaining commercial experience with several aquaponic systems, Viscon recently completely renewed the design of the floats and production system. Canadian greenhouse grower Mucci Farms is now the first in North America to use this new hydroponic system for the production of organic lettuce.

Mucci Farms is the first North American grower to use this new advanced hydroponic system of Viscon.

Hydroponic lettuce produced on floating rafts in an aquaponic setting have been around in the industry for quite some years now. Since then many types of production systems have been designed and introduced; from simple styrofoam rafts to large and heavy floating gutters systems. But often growers experienced problems; from severe disease pressure and water sanitation problems to systems clogging up with loose substrate material. Often the gutter was the problem, or the propagation material. This was a reason for Viscon to redesign the gutter system.

Viscon's Simon Kleinjan showing the new float last week at the IPM in Essen.

"We basically have designed a completely new raft system that consists of two parts", explained Simon Kleinjan of Viscon. "On the upper side there are open gutter channels with holes drilled for 18, 24 or 35 plants per square meter. The gutters are placed on a set of closed, floating tubes that carry the gutters. These tubes are sealed with specially developed caps and no glue or silicons are used, which prevents toxicity in the water. The gutters can be made in lengths up to 12 meters, and can be connected to each other in order to create floating units at any dimension. They are suitable for both manual, sem-automatic and fully automatic system; the sizes are flexible and the system remains easy to use and lightweight."

Another benefit of the new system from Viscon, are the transplant pots for the small lettuce that can be placed in the floats. These pots prevent loose substrate material to enter the water, as it has only allow the crops' roots to access the water. Due to this smart pot, the ponds stay clean from substrate residues.

The propagation pot of Viscon

Last year, Viscon succesfully trialled a full automated demonstration project with this system at Dutch grower Gipmans. In North Amercia, Mucci is the first grower to use the system; first, the 500m2 trial was successful. Now Mucci Farms & Viscon are in a new phase in which Viscon will fully automate the process, including seeding, transplanting the young plants, transport of the floats and the harvesting of the living lettuce.

Viscon & Mucci Farms came to an exclusivity agreement regarding the patented system for the North American market & Mexico.

Viscon will present their innovative hydroponics systems at Fruit Logistica in Berlin (Hall 4.1 booth C10).

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