A Hydroponic System
in an Insulated Box
The root ball of a cabbage plant
Agrow Cube is a self-contained agricultural system that captures the best growing day of the season -- perfect sun, perfect temperature, perfect CO2 levels -- and recreates it 365 days of the year. It combines an insulated walk-in cooler with a hydroponics growing system that uses 90% less water and 80% less nutrients than traditional farming, gardening, and greenhouse growing, and is low maintenance. It requires no weeding and no pesticides. For more information about running Agrow Cube as a business, see this page.
Because it is a closed system, there is no wastewater runoff; instead, the water is continually recycled through the system, and once the water tanks are filled, only a small amount of water needs to be added to replace the water used by the plants or lost to evaporation. Agrow Cube is weatherproof, and inside the insulated system, plants can uniformly grow independent of the outside environment. Rain or snow, drought or flood, your crops are protected inside Agrow Cube.
Agrow Cube is designed to hold different growing environments. The first option available grows lettuces, herbs, and other leafy greens. During our five years of research and development, we tested a wide range of plants in different growing environments. Our results show that lettuces, herbs, and other leafy greens are the best plants to grow to maximize the return on your investment. Two additional growing environments are coming soon; the second option will be optimized for strawberries, and the third for tomatoes and peppers.
Agrow Cube is available in two standard sizes: 10’W x 20’L x 9’6”H and 10’W x 40’L x 9’6”H. It can also be customized in size and shape to fit your needs. No matter your experience level, Agrow Cube enables you to grow a wide variety of plants year round. Each Agrow Cube is delivered ready to grow, and can easily be scaled to meet market demands.
Each Agrow Cube includes a complete hydroponics system. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution that doesn’t use soil. Plants grow faster in a hydroponics system and produce more than the same plants traditionally grown in soil. A hydroponics system includes grow spaces and a substrate, a water system, lighting, nutrients, and environmental controls.
Grow Spaces and Substrate
Agrow Cube uses clay pebbles as the substrate in the grow spaces. They are made from naturally-mined clay that is sterilized during the firing process. The clay pebbles are lightweight but heavy enough that they are not washed away by the water flow; porous and naturally absorb and retain water, so that plant roots can feed even if the water flow is temporarily interrupted; and hold oxygen to aid in root development and limit plant rot.
The rack system being assembled
LED Lights and rosemary plants
Agrow Cube uses a nutrient film technique (NFT) hydroponics water system, where a continuous flow of nutrient-rich water runs over the plant roots. The plant roots are not fully submerged in the water, which allows them to absorb more oxygen, because roots absorb more oxygen from air than from water. This further aids in root development and limits plant rot. We use a pipe and pump system to produce the continuous water flow: the water cycles through the pipes, over the plant roots, and back into the water tank where you can easily add nutrients and oxygenate the water as necessary. This system eliminates water and nutrient loss due to wastewater runoff, and gives you control of the nutrients, oxygen-levels, and pH of the water.
Agrow Cube uses an LED lighting system. LEDs provide you with the most control over the light spectrum, use less energy than halide or fluorescent lights, and can be configured in many ways. Agrow Cube uses full spectrum LED lights in the lettuce, herbs, and leafy greens growing environment. You will set light and dark cycles to create the perfect growth environment.
Agrow Cube uses a mix of nutrients depending on your specific plant and water needs.
Insulated panels being assembled
Agrow Cube gives you complete control over the growth environment through its split-system heating and cooling climate control unit, air pump and distribution manifold, water pump, and airstone and supply line. Protected from the outside weather by a dense polyextruded composite foam shaped to the exact size of each panel, Agrow Cube’s insulation is far superior to spray foam. The 4” thick insulated panels are securely interlocked using a double sealed gasket and latch system, the same construction used for industrial coolers that must be kept at -20 degrees internally in extreme 100+ degree weather.
Because each Agrow Cube is made up of interlocked panels, shipping and installation is fast, inexpensive, and convenient. Your Agrow Cube can easily be set up in any location, from your backyard to an alley to a building rooftop, and does not require you to rent a crane for delivery. Each individual panel is small enough to fit inside a freight elevator.
Plant Growing Cycle
On average, each growing cycle lasts around six weeks in the lettuce, herbs, and leafy greens Agrow Cube growing environment, depending on plant varieties. This cycle can be broken down into three stages:
New seedlings sprouting
Royal Red Lettuce in the hydroponic tubes
Stage One: Seedlings
The first stage focuses on seed germination and seedling growth. Each Agrow Cube comes equipped with a work station custom-designed for seed planting and seedling growth. You will plant seeds in rockwool cube, a rock and sand combination that has been melted and spun into fibers. Rockwool cubes retain water and air and are great for seedling growth. Each rockwool cube is then placed in a water culture, where the rockwool cube floats in nutrient-rich water and supports the plants so that roots can develop. Seedlings generally remain here for one to two weeks before being relocated into the grow spaces.
Stage Two: Mature Growth
The second stage focuses on the quick, robust growth of seedlings into mature plants. After stage one growth is complete, you will transplant the seedlings into the individual grow spaces in the hydroponics system, where they will remain until harvest. Harvest generally occurs within 30 days of transplant.
At the same time, new seeds are planted in stage one.
Harvesting Buttercrunch Lettuce
Stage Three: Harvest
The third stage focuses on harvesting the previous cycle of plants. Once stage two growth is complete, you will harvest the fully grown plants. Harvesting can be done in one of two ways. The first is to harvest a partial plant, leaving roots and growing stems behind. The second is to remove the entire plant. We recommend the second harvest type for three reasons:
(1) Plants have a longer shelf life if you keep the roots intact because the roots retain some of the nutrient-rich water at harvest.
(2) Plants are generally sold by weight, and harvesting the entire plant increases your harvest yield.
(3) Harvesting the entire plant clears that grow space for a new seedling. While some plants can be harvested in a way that leaves the roots and growing stems behind, seedling growth is faster than regrowth, and you will be able to harvest sooner if you transplant a new seedling to that grow space than if you wait for regrowth to occur.