Strawberry UFV Test Site Results to date
The strawberry summer growing trials are now complete. Two 4 level beta prototype towers were installed at the University of the Fraser Valley BioPod Surrey BC location in the agriculture research greenhouse. One tower holds 128 strawberry plants and the other 256 within a 100 square feet. Immediate objectives included developing an organic proprietary crop management system, exceed field farming yields and determine best practices to help catalyze commercial scale up. Affinor met the objectives by exceeding standard field production output using all organic inputs and a developed organic crop managing system.
256 plants would require approximately 450 square feet when planted in traditional field crops where our tower only required a quarter of the space exceeding yields per square foot dramatically. As well, direct irrigation control consumed one tenth the amount of water when compared to field sprinkler production. The small 4 level 16 arm tower produced over 200 lbs. of salable product in the short three month trial window. All protocol and developed methods will be used to help catalyze commercial development with several current license holders.
Affinor's next objective is to produce strawberries throughout the winter with customized LED supplemental lighting for fruiting crops and diversify the crop trials with kale and other leafy greens. Efforts are being made to start the next phase of winter testing by year end which is a key period when strawberry and produce prices are at their highest during the year.
Tower Delta Design
Over the summer and grow trial period, Affinor took the opportunity to redesign certain aspects of the tower technology with the goal to reduce overall cost by 30% per level, improve plant resource availability and improve versatility. A new Delta design is being prototyped and will meet all objectives by reducing the number of growing arms while maintaining plant density and reducing cost by over 30%.
Jarrett Malnarick, President & CEO, comments, "We are very happy our summer growth trials and the product analysis proves the technology can grow strawberries efficiently and organically in soil without the use of chemicals or pesticides. Strawberries are traditionally a difficult fruit to grow, and we are excited to be changing the way strawberries will be commercially produced."
The BioPods are a City of Surrey vision and agricultural initiative designed as a catalyst for agricultural research and innovation. Under the supervision of the University of the Fraser Valley, the BioPods provide a testing ground for new agriculture technologies and techniques. In April 2016, Affinor installed a vertical growing system within the BioPod research center to validate the technology by growing strawberries throughout the summer months and coming winter.