Trials of its unique labour-saving cultivation method for trellised greenhouse vegetables are showing excellent results, according to BiomicAgritech

Israeli agritech company BiomicAgritech was nominated for this year’s GreenTech Concept Award for its unique top-down growing method for trellised greenhouse vegetables.

The name comes from the science of biomimicry, according to Dr Eliezer Edelstein, since the system attempts to imitate nature.

“You would think that if a tomato plant needed a wire in order to grow, God would have given it one,” he commented. “Instead we grow tomatoes and cucumbers top-down from rotatable tubes. We don’t tie them to wires. We let gravity grow the plant downward, and after harvesting, instead of leaning and lowering, the stem is wrapped around the tube by rotating the tube to lift the plant up.”

A test at the World Horti Center in Naaldwijk, in the Netherlands, is showing excellent results, according to Edelstein. Another test for growing cucumbers is apparently running in Israel.

“Usually, growing cucumbers, the trellising starts when the plant is about 20cm high because it has a very thin, fragile stem,” he said. “Then trellising is done every second day. Around 20 people have to come into the greenhouse. They start on their knees, and it is long, uncomfortable work. Every plant takes more than half a minute to do. Now imagine that on 1,000m2 where there are 2,000 plants.”

The reduced labour requirements are a huge advantage to growers, said Edelstein. “Our system saves a lot of labour,” he explained. “One cucumber grower said to us, ‘Do you know what this means, the next time we have to come into the greenhouse after planting will be just for harvesting!’”

The company’s ultimate goal is to make a fully robotic greenhouse a reality. “There are companies that are working on robotics for greenhouses, but no one else is working on robotic trellising since it’s a very delicate and professional job,” said Edelstein. “For us, that’s eliminated. Imagine a greenhouse of 10 acres operated by just two people. This is more than possible, provided the money is there.”