CA2727502A1 - Plant growing system - Google Patents

Plant growing system Download PDF

Info

Publication number
CA2727502A1
CA2727502A1 CA2727502A CA2727502A CA2727502A1 CA 2727502 A1 CA2727502 A1 CA 2727502A1 CA 2727502 A CA2727502 A CA 2727502A CA 2727502 A CA2727502 A CA 2727502A CA 2727502 A1 CA2727502 A1 CA 2727502A1
Authority
CA
Canada
Prior art keywords
growing
cabinets
plant growing
plant
growing system
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
CA2727502A
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Stuart D. Brazier
Thomas C. Colclough
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Individual
Original Assignee
Individual
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by Individual filed Critical Individual
Priority to CA2727502A priority Critical patent/CA2727502A1/en
Publication of CA2727502A1 publication Critical patent/CA2727502A1/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

Links

Classifications

    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04BGENERAL BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONS; WALLS, e.g. PARTITIONS; ROOFS; FLOORS; CEILINGS; INSULATION OR OTHER PROTECTION OF BUILDINGS
    • E04B5/00Floors; Floor construction with regard to insulation; Connections specially adapted therefor
    • E04B5/48Special adaptations of floors for incorporating ducts, e.g. for heating or ventilating
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01GHORTICULTURE; CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLES, FLOWERS, RICE, FRUIT, VINES, HOPS OR SEAWEED; FORESTRY; WATERING
    • A01G31/00Soilless cultivation, e.g. hydroponics
    • A01G31/02Special apparatus therefor
    • A01G31/06Hydroponic culture on racks or in stacked containers
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01GHORTICULTURE; CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLES, FLOWERS, RICE, FRUIT, VINES, HOPS OR SEAWEED; FORESTRY; WATERING
    • A01G9/00Cultivation in receptacles, forcing-frames or greenhouses; Edging for beds, lawn or the like
    • A01G9/14Greenhouses
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01GHORTICULTURE; CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLES, FLOWERS, RICE, FRUIT, VINES, HOPS OR SEAWEED; FORESTRY; WATERING
    • A01G9/00Cultivation in receptacles, forcing-frames or greenhouses; Edging for beds, lawn or the like
    • A01G9/24Devices or systems for heating, ventilating, regulating temperature, illuminating, or watering, in greenhouses, forcing-frames, or the like
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02ATECHNOLOGIES FOR ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02A40/00Adaptation technologies in agriculture, forestry, livestock or agroalimentary production
    • Y02A40/10Adaptation technologies in agriculture, forestry, livestock or agroalimentary production in agriculture
    • Y02A40/25Greenhouse technology, e.g. cooling systems therefor
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02PCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES IN THE PRODUCTION OR PROCESSING OF GOODS
    • Y02P60/00Technologies relating to agriculture, livestock or agroalimentary industries
    • Y02P60/20Reduction of greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions in agriculture, e.g. CO2
    • Y02P60/21Dinitrogen oxide [N2O], e.g. using aquaponics, hydroponics or efficiency measures

Landscapes

  • Life Sciences & Earth Sciences (AREA)
  • Environmental Sciences (AREA)
  • Engineering & Computer Science (AREA)
  • Architecture (AREA)
  • Physics & Mathematics (AREA)
  • Electromagnetism (AREA)
  • Civil Engineering (AREA)
  • Structural Engineering (AREA)
  • Hydroponics (AREA)

Abstract

A plant growing system includes a building structure having an interior providing an artificial growing environment. A plurality of growing walls are arranged in a parallel spaced configuration within the building structure with access aisles between adjacent growing walls.
The plant growing system has increased plant density. It is preferred that the growing wall be formed by stacking as many as fifty or sixty layers of plants in up to ten or twelve growing cabinets stacked one upon another.

Description

TITLE
[001] Plant growing system FIELD
[002] There is described a plant growing system that was developed in order to increase plant density and yield. This plant growing system addresses technical problems that arise when one attempts to provide light, water, air and nutrients to plants in an area of increased plant density.

BACKGROUND
[003] A number of plant growing systems have been proposed in order to increase plant density and yield. A representative sampling, which demonstrates the world wide nature of the problem, includes: German publication DE3634805; Japanese publication JP2004329060;
European publication EP0533939; French publication FR2902283; Chinese Publication CA101213930; United States Publication 2007144069 and Canadian publication CA2530695.
The concepts advanced generally propose that the plant density be increased by supporting the plants vertically on walls or columns. This then creates a problem of how one ensures the plants have adequate light, water, air and nutrients. As heat builds up in greenhouse structures, there is a further problem of temperature and humidity control. If the foregoing can be addressed, there remains a final problem of how to access the plants for the purpose of servicing and harvesting, in order to reap the benefits of the increased density.

SUMMARY
[004] There is provided a plant growing system which includes a building structure having an interior providing an artificial growing environment. A plurality of growing walls are arranged in a parallel spaced configuration within the building structure with access aisles between adjacent growing walls.
[005] While growing walls per se are known, the concept of having multiple growing walls within a confined space is new. With the plant growing system, as described above, plant density and, consequently, yield is dramatically increased. However, the proposed configuration creates a number of problems relating to how to ensure that the plants get sufficient light, water, air and nutrients, how to access the plants, and where to place needed equipment.
[006] It is preferred that each growing wall be formed from a plurality of growing cabinets.
The growing cabinets are first arranged horizontally in side by side relation to form a base of the growing wall and then a plurality of growing cabinets are stacked vertically onto the base to establish a vertical height for the growing wall. The length of the growing walls is only limited by the physical length and width dimensions of the building. The height of the growing walls is similarly limited by the physical height dimensions of the building. It is preferred that some space be left above the growing cabinets to allow heat to rise away from the plants and to leave room for needed equipment. It is envisaged that there will be up to fifty to sixty layers of plants in ten to twelve growing cabinets stacked vertically one upon another.
[007] With the plant growing system that will hereafter be described, the problem of where to place the needed equipment has been addressed with a unique building structure. The building has a roof cladding permitting entry of diffused natural sunlight. A
subfloor divides the building into an upper level and a lower level The subfloor has a plurality of conduit passages extending therethrough between the upper level and the lower level. A
plurality of the stacks of growing cabinets are positioned on the upper level, with each one of the stacks of growing cabinets having an associated conduit passage extending through the subfloor.
The needed equipment to provide air, water, and nutrients is positioned on the lower level and connected to piping of the stack of growing cabinets by at least one conduit extending through the conduit passages. Controls are provided to selectively vary water, nutrients or air going to selected stacks of growing cabinets to suit plants being grown and their stage of growth. To provide maximum flexibility when configuring the growing walls, it is preferred that the conduit passages in the subfloor be arranged in a grid pattern of rows and columns. It is preferred that the equipment on the lower level is offset from the stacks of growing cabinets on the upper level, so that there is always access from below to service each stack of growing cabinets. In order to maximize the plant growing area on the upper level, propagation cabinets, micro green cabinets, nutrient tanks, water chillers, control systems, carbon dioxide generators, filtration systems, laboratory space, office space and storage space are all placed on the lower level.
[008] It is preferred that the growing cabinets be made from modular cabinet components.
The modular cabinet component has opposed side panels connected by connective struts. The modular cabinet components can be turned into propagation cabinets placing tray supports on the side panels, to support propagation trays. The modular cabinet components can be turned into growing cabinets by placing a face plate with growing slots to receive growing baskets across an open face. Plants come in different sizes, and those sizes increase as the plants grow.
Growing slots are generally sized to fit a particular breed of plant. In order to provide maximum flexibility, it is preferred that the growing slots on each face plate are elongated and extend for substantially an entire width of the face plate. Spacers are used to close that portion of the growing slot not filled by one or more growing baskets.
[009] Research indicates that more rapid plant growth will be experienced when the plant growing system employs an aeroponic delivered nutrient solution. However, aeroponic nutrient delivery systems are prone to blockage and a failure of the aeroponic delivery system can result in plant loss. It is, therefore, preferred that both an aeroponic solution and a hydroponic solution are used. The aeroponic solution is the primary solution which is used most of the time. However, a hydroponic delivery system is also provided to deliver hydroponic' solution.
While the hydroponic solution is merely a back up solution, it is nonetheless used at regular intervals to condition the plants to the use of hydroponic solution in the event of a catastrophic failure of a delivery system for the aeroponic solution.
[0010] It is preferred that water and nutrients be delivered to the stack of growing cabinets via the cover. Each cover has a sloped surface that is perforated. Water containing nutrients is discharged onto the lid and runs down the sloped surface passing through the perforations into the growing cabinet. It is preferred that drainage be accommodated through the base. The base has a sloped bottom communicating with a drainage conduit that is extended through the conduit passage into the lower level where water and nutrient tanks are located. Each of the growing cabinets has external conduit connectors, to accommodate the various conduits, including air, water, nutrients, and electrical power.
[0011] In order to avoid damage to plants caused by pathogens certain preventive measures are taken. An airlock door system isolates an environment within the building from an environment external to the building. This minimizes the egress of carbon dioxide from and the ingress of fresh air into the building. It is preferred that each stack of growing cabinets has a closed loop nutrient circulation system to isolate the stack of growing cabinets against pathogens from other stacks of growing cabinets.
[0012] A problem with greenhouses is heat building up. It is preferred that the roof be supported by a plurality of pre-fabricated structural arches. The pre-fabricated structural arches can quickly be assembled. Cables extending between the arches assist in forming contours of the building structure. More importantly, the arches leave a space above the growing cabinets where warm air accumulates. Each of the growing cabinets has at least one external channel extending vertically up one of the sides. When the growing cabinets are placed in side by side relation the external channels collectively form an air duct. A centralized fan can service multiple cabinets, or a single fan can be placed in each stack of the growing cabinets. The fan draws warm air from above the stack of growing cabinets down to into a heat exchange with a cooling system. Water serves as the coolant for the cooling system. When the water becomes warm, it is passed through an evaporative cooling system. Warm water is sent cascading down an internal wall or an external wall in the process of which the water is cooled by evaporative cooling. Cooled water is then collected in a cool water tank for recirculation and reuse.
[0013] Providing sufficient light is of particular concern, in view of the closely spaced growing walls. In order to address this need light tubes are positioned so that they extend down from above between the growing cabinets and into the aisles. It is preferred that sun tracking reflectors be used to reflect light into the light tubes. It is preferred that fiberoptic cables also be provided to supply natural sunlight to a transparent structure embedded in a floor of the aisles to provide natural ambient light from below.
[0014] The light tubes can get in the way when workers are trying to access the plants on the growing walls. It is, therefore, preferred that each light tube be selectively movable between an operative position and an inoperative position moved out of the way to provide clearance. A

preferred way of accomplishing this is for each light tube to be biased into the operative position by a spring mounting. The spring mounting allows the light tube to be moved to the inoperative position to provide clearance when a force is exerted to overcome the biasing force of the spring mounting. The spring mounting returns the light tube to the operative position when the force is removed. It will be appreciated that the same result can be achieved by providing a drive system to move each tube between the operative position and the inoperative position.
[0015] With a stack of as many as ten or twelve growing cabinets, there is a real concern that the stack of growing cabinets be stabilized. A preferred cabinet support structure comprises cables which have a lower end and an upper end. The lower end of each cable is anchored to either the subfloor or the base of a stack of growing cabinets. The upper end of each cable is anchored to a gantry above the cabinets. The cables extend through cable receivers in the growing cabinets to provide vertical stability to the growing cabinets. It is preferred that retainers projecting upwardly from the subfloor confine a base of a stack of growing cabinets against lateral movement.
[0016] In order to maximize the available floor area on the subfloor, it is preferred that the building has at least one end which is semi-circular with a semi-circular ramp providing access between the upper level and the lower level.
[0017] In order to access the growing cabinets, it is preferred that a mobile work platform be provided. A mobile work platform can consist of a multi-level platform that allows workers to work at a particular level and move to a higher or lower level. To stabilize the mobile work platform from above, an upper guide track is provided which is supported by a gantry. A lower guide track is also provided on the subfloor in the form of raised concrete guide rails. A lower chassis portion of the mobile work platform has vertically oriented wheels which roll along the subfloor and opposed horizontally oriented wheels which roll along the concrete guide rails. An upper chassis portion of the mobile work platform moves vertically up and down along a vertical guide that extends between the lower guide track and the upper guide track. Although not its primary function, the raised concrete guide rails on the subfloor also serve as forms for self-levelling liquid concrete. The use of self-levelling liquid concrete enables steps to be taken to ensure that each stack of growing cabinets is level.
[0018] When planting seedlings or harvesting produce, the upper chassis portion of the mobile work platform has one or more detachable wheeled trolley for carrying the seedlings, plants or harvested produce. An adjustable counterweight assembly is provided to add or subtract weight as required to counter the weight of the upper chassis portion of the mobile work platform as it moves up and down along the vertical guide, depending upon whether one or more detachable wheeled trolleys have been attached.
[0019] Some types of plants require support as they grow. To address this need, a movable trellis system extends between supports. The trellis is detachable, so that it can be removed when not required. When in use, it is capable of being movable towards or away relative to the base supporting a stack of growing cabinets as plants grow larger, or moving sideways relative to the base to guide plants into empty space in the growing slot.
[0020] There are further desirable features that have been incorporated into the plant growing system, all of which will be described in more detail in the description which follows.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
[0021] These and other features will become more apparent from the following description in which reference is made to the appended drawings, the drawings are for the purpose of illustration only and are not intended to be in any way limiting, wherein:
[0022] FIG. 1 is an end elevation view, in section, of a building structure containing a plant growing system;
[0023] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a growing cabinet stacked on another growing cabinet;
[0024] FIG. 3 is an end elevation view, in section, of the building structure of FIG. 1, showing roof cladding;
[0025] FIG. 4 is a top plan view of a subfloor having a plurality of conduit passages;
[0026] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a propagation cabinet;
[0027] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a growing tray used in the propagation cabinet;
[0028] FIG. 7 is an perspective view of a growing cabinet having a face plate with growing slots;
[0029] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a growing cabinet shroud;
[0030] FIG. 9 is a perspective exploded view of growing slots, growing baskets and spacers;
[0031] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an air delivery system as incorporated into a growing cabinet;
[0032] FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a cover with a sloped surface for a stack of growing cabinets.
[0033] FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a modular cabinet capable of being used as either a propagation cabinet or a growing cabinet;
[0034] FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the sloped base for a stack of growing cabinets;
[0035] FIG. 14 is a detailed top plan view, in section, adjacent cabinets forming a closed external conduit holder or duct;
[0036] FIG. 15 is a detailed top plan view, in section, of adjacent cabinets forming external a partially open external conduit holder;
[0037] FIG. 16 is a perspective view of an air cooling or heating system;
[0038] FIG. 17 is an end elevation view, in section, of the air cooling system illustrated in FIG.16;
[0039] FIG. 18 is a side elevation view of a growing cabinets with sensors to monitor temperature and humidity, [0040] FIG. 19 is a perspective view of a modular cabinet structure which can be used to form either propagation cabinets or growing cabinets;
[0041] FIG. 20 is an end elevation view, in section, of the building of FIG.
1, showing a gantry supported in a position above the subfloor;
[0042] FIG. 21 is an end elevation view, in section, of the building structure of FIG. 1, showing positioning of infrared radiation blocking barriers;
[0043] FIG. 22 is a detailed end elevation view, in section of a cabinet support structure, mobile platform upper guide structure and lighting support structure;
[0044] FIG. 23 is a top plan view of a lighting tube support between two growing cabinets;
[0045] FIG. 24 is a side elevation view of a first embodiment of light tube support;
[0046] FIG. 25 is a side elevation view in section, of a closed loop nutrient system;
[0047] FIG. 26 is an end elevation view, in section, of an evaporative cooling system;
[0048] FIG. 27 is a perspective view of a half-pipe used in the evaporative cooling system of FIG. 26;
[0049] FIG. 28 is a top plan view, in section, of the building structure of FIG. 1, showing a semi-circular ramp providing access between upper level and lower level;
[0050] FIG. 29 is a side elevation view of a mobile work platform is supported by gantry;
[00511 FIG. 30 is a top plan view of the mobile work platform illustrated in FIG. 29;
[0052] FIG. 31 is an end elevation view, in section, of subfloor of FIG. 1, with a lower guide track for mobile work platform;
[0053] FIG. 32 is an end elevation view, in section, of subfloor of FIG. 1, with floor lighting;
[0054] FIG. 33 is an end elevation view of a trellis system;
[0055] FIG. 34 is perspective view of a fan positioned at the top of a stack;
DETAILED DESCRIPTION
[0056] A plant growing system generally identified by reference numeral 10, will now be described with reference to FIG. 1 through 34.

Structure and Relationship of Parts:

[0057] Referring to FIG. 1, there is illustrated a plant growing system generally referenced by numeral 10, which includes a building structure 12 that has an interior 14 which provides an artificial growing environment. A plurality of growing walls 16 are arranged in a parallel spaced configuration within building structure 12 with access aisles 17 between adjacent growing walls 16.

[0058] It is preferred that each growing wall 16 be formed from a plurality of growing cabinets 18 arranged horizontally in side by side relation to form a base of growing wall 16 and a plurality of growing cabinets 18 stacked vertically to establish a vertical height for growing wall 16. It is envisaged that there will be fifty to sixty layers of plants in ten to twelve growing cabinets stacked vertically one upon another.

Modular Cabinets [0059] A form of modular cabinet has been developed for this application. As will hereinafter be described, these modular cabinets can, with minor modifications, be used as both propagation cabinets and as growing cabinets. There are also some special features that have been built in to the modular cabinets to assist with the care and nurturing of plants. Referring to FIG. 19, a basic double sided modular cabinet is shown. The modular cabinet has two opposed solid side surfaces 112 and four rigid support struts 114. It can be disassembled, so it can be shipped flat. When assembled, the two side surfaces 112 are held in a rigid spaced relationship by the support struts 114, so that the modular cabinet can withstand stacking and provide structural support to a stack of modular cabinets. The modular cabinet has an open top and open bottom, which will hereafter be referred to as vertical openings 140. The modular cabinet also has opposed open faces 142. Referring to FIG. 2, there is illustrated how these modular cabinets can be placed in side by side relation and stacked upon each other to establish a growing wall having a desired stacking height of ten to twelve cabinets. There will hereinafter be discussed modifications to turn modular cabinets into either propagation cabinets 38 or growing cabinets 18.
Conduit Holders [0060] Referring to FIG. 12, FIG. 13, FIG. 14 and FIG. 15, arcuate external conduit holders 116 serve to hold air, liquid, or electrical conduits 30 in place by locating them in two recessed semi or part-circles located on exterior of two separate cabinets so as to form a complete circumference as seen in FIG. 14 or partial circumference area as seen in FIG. 15 within which conduits 30 can be located when propagation cabinets 38 or growing cabinets 18 are placed together. Referring to FIG. 15, in the partial configuration, an opening 121 between the cabinets allow access to pipe face 122, whereas in FIG. 14, there is no access to pipe face 122 due to the complete circumference formation. It will be appreciated that external conduit holders 116 can be used to run conduit carrying air, water, nutrients and electrical power to each stack of propagation cabinets 38 or growing cabinets 18.
Proaaeation Cabinets [0061] Referring to FIG. 12, when used as propagation cabinets the modular cabinets are modified to have tray supports 115 on side surfaces 112. With the addition of tray supports 115, the modular cabinets can support propagation trays. Referring to FIG. 6, there is illustrated one of propagation trays 44. Each propagation tray 44 holds a heating pad 57 and a growing matrix 58 to grow either seedlings or micro greens. Growing matrix 58 can be used with either of two growing systems. It can hold approximately 125 seed growing plugs (depending upon the size of the plant plugs) in open ended chambers 60 or can be used to hold a growing mat (not shown) to grow micro greens. Referring FIG. 5, there is illustrated the modular cabinets used as propagation cabinets, generally identified by reference numeral 38.
Referring to FIG. 5, each propagation cabinet 38 supports a plurality of horizontally oriented propagation trays 44 stacked vertically. Lights 46 are mounted to an underside 48 of each of propagation trays 44 to illuminate seeds positioned in an underlying propagation tray 44. Lights 46 can be in the form of LED's (Light emitting diodes) or any other suitable lighting forms for illuminating underlying propagation trays 44.
[0062] Referring FIG. 5, a pivotally mounted faceplate 50 is provided for sealing propagation cabinet 38 to allow for propagation cabinet 38 to be enclosed and climate controlled. Faceplate 50 pivots about a substantially horizontal pivot axis 51. Face plate 50 has brackets 57 which serve as pivotal stops by engaging cabinet surface 52 of an underlying propagation cabinet to support face plate 50 in a substantially horizontal position to provide a work surface 54. Propagation trays 44 can be removed and rested upon work surface 54.
Work surface 54 has a lip 56, which prevents items from falling off.

Growine Cabinets [0063] Referring to FIG. 13, each growing cabinet 18 has base 64 with a sloped bottom 118 that is in conuntmication with a drainage conduit 120 which diverts unused nutrient solution and water to a re-circulation tank (not shown in this Figure). Referring to FIG.
7, when the modular cabinets, described above, are used growing cabinets 18 each open face 142 is covered with a face plate 68 having growing slots 70. Plants are positioned in growing slots 70. Plant roots may be inspected, treated, and/or removed by removing face plate 68. The plant roots extend into the interior of growing cabinet 18, which permits unencumbered root growth and access to nutrient solution. It is envisaged that faceplate 68 will be positioned on each opposed open face 142. It is preferred, but not essential, that growing slots 70 on each face plate 68 be elongated and extend for substantially an entire width of face plate 68.
[0064] Referring to FIG. 11, an uppermost growing cabinet 18 in the stack has its vertical opening 140 closed by a cover 91, that has a sloped surface 92 with perforations 94. Referring to FIG. 8, cover 91 has an overlying shroud 69. Cover 91 and shroud 69 function as part of the nutrient system and will hereafter be further described in relation to such system.
Growina Baskets [0065] Referring to FIG. 9, angled growing slots 70 receive and hold growing baskets 72.
Growing baskets have a high collar 80 to protect seedlings when being handled by workers.
While growing slots 70 for growing baskets 72 are shown as being horizontal, they could also be vertical, or angled in order to increase or decrease the horizontal distance between plants so as to optimize the amount of light to reach each plant, and to optimize plant density. Growing baskets 72 can be inserted into growing slots 70 at different levels and their alignment may be offset so as to provide maximum vertical space to grow plants should they need it.
Proportionally longer baskets 72 containing a plant and plant roots can be located on different vertical levels to ensure that the nutrient solution covers the roots thereby allowing roots access to nutrients needed for plant growth Placement of growing baskets 72 into growing slots 70 and adjusting the distance between plants permits 100% plant density at maximum capacity for smaller plants or any combination of lesser density for larger plants. One or multiple growing baskets 72 can be positioned in growing slot 70 so as to achieve 100% plant density or to decrease density by increasing the spacing between plants. Moreover, multiple levels of growing slots 70 holding growing baskets 72 can allow plants to be grown in an offset position or directly under each other. Spacers 74 are provided to close that portion 76 of growing slot 70 not filled by one or more growing baskets 72. Spacers 74 can be used to seal the empty spaces 76 between growing baskets 72 and are placed over growing slot 70 where required.
Spacers 74 control the distance between growing baskets 72, prevent nutrients from escaping growing cabinet 18 and light from penetrating growing cabinet 18. Growing baskets 72 have a lip 78 to hold growing basket 72 in place in growing slot 70. Each growing basket 72 has a solid upper surface 80 to prevent light penetrating so as to protect seedling, and a mesh lower surface 82 to allow roots to access aeroponic or hydroponic solution being circulated within growing cabinet 18.

Building Structure [0066] While an existing greenhouse could be retrofitted with growing walls 16 made from stacked growing cabinets 18, as described above; it is preferred that a special building structure be used. Referring to FIG. 3, building structure 12 has a translucent roof cladding 20 permitting entry of natural sunlight. A subfloor 22 is provided that divides building structure 12 into an upper level 24 and a lower level 26. Referring to FIG. 4, subfloor 22 has a plurality of conduit passages 28 extending between upper level 24 and lower level 26 shown in FIG. 3.
Referring to FIG. 4, conduit passages 28 in subfloor 22 are arranged in a grid pattern of rows and columns. Referring to FIG. 1, growing cabinets 18 are stacked upon subfloor 22 on upper level 24 in relation to conduit passages 28. Conduit passages 28 are intended to minimize the length of any air, water, nutrient, drainage and electrical conduits 30 communicating with growing cabinets 18 and to allow easy service access to an underside 32 of growing cabinets 18.
Propagation cabinets 38 are positioned on lower level 26.

[0067] Referring to FIG. 1, a plurality of stacks of growing cabinets 18 are positioned on upper level 24, with each one of stacks of growing cabinets 18 resting on subfloor 22 above one of conduit passages 28 illustrated in FIG. 4. Referring to FIG. 1, offsetting the alignment of growing walls 16 of growing cabinets on upper level 24 from propagation cabinets 38 and supporting equipment on lower level 26 facilitates easy access to underside 32 of growing cabinets 18.

[0068] Referring to FIG. 1, sources of air, water, or nutrients in tanks 34 are positioned on lower level 26 and connected to piping 36 of stack of growing cabinets 18 by conduits 30 extending through conduit passages 28. Controls 37 are provided to selectively vary water, nutrients or air going from tanks 34 to selected stacks of growing cabinets 18 to suit plants being grown and their stage of growth.

[0069] Referring to FIG. 1, conduits 30 serve to remove waste from, and deliver resources to plants growing in growing cabinets 18. Conduits 30 run along the inside and/or outside of growing cabinet 18 and can include one or more warm or cold air with carbon dioxide conduits;
one or more nutrient solution conduits; one or more electrical and electronic conduits; one or more fresh water conduits; and one or more drainage conduits.

[0070] Referring to FIG. 20, an airlock system in the form of a pair of doors 144 and 145 with an airlock space 147 in-between is provided to isolate the environment within the building structure 12 from an environment external to building structure 12. Doors 144 and 145 cannot be opened at the same time. If door 144 is open, door 145 must remain closed.
Conversely, if door 145 is open, door 144 must remain closed. This prevents direct communication of the external environment with the internal environment during ingress and egress to building structure 12.

[00711 Referring to FIG. 28, building structure 12 has at least one end 236 which is semi-circular with a semi-circular ramp 238. Semi-circular ramp 238 provides access between upper level 24 and lower level 26 shown in FIG. 1. Referring to FIG. 28, semi-circular ramp 238 and is curved along a periphery of semi-circular end 236 so as to minimize encroaching into the production area 239 of upper level 24 and to locate a shipping and receiving area close to end 240 of semi-circular ramp 238 at lower level 26 so as to minimize the movement of harvested produce.
[0072] Referring to FIG. 21, roof cladding 20 is supported by a plurality of pre-fabricated structural arches 146. Structural arches 146 are used to avoid using vertical beams in building structure 12. Structural arches 146 support roof cladding 20 and maximize the space available above growing cabinets 18 illustrated in FIG. 20. Referring to FIG. 21, each structural arch 146 is sized to provide the domed contour of building structure 12 and used to hold a gantry 148. Each structural arch 146 contains a number of pre-manufactured sections 150 that are quickly assembled and bolted together expedite construction of building structure 12. Referring to FIG. 3, each structural arch 146 is used to hold horizontal cables 152 at set intervals to further assist creating a domed shape. Vertical spacers 154 or stanchions or posts are attached at one end of cables 152 and face outwards. Vertical spacers 154 are attached to a keder track 156 running perpendicular to building structure 12. Referring to FIG. 21, pillows 158 are located within keder track 156 so as to provide a waterproof sealed cladding roof 20. Referring to FIG. 3, where structural arches 146 meet at an upper center 160 of building structure 12, parallel beams 162 form a natural opening 164 from which hot air can be vented from building structure 12, if desired. It should be noted that the venting of hot air in this manner is a measure of last resort, as the systems are intended to try to avoid such venting by using an evaporative cooling system which will hereinafter be described.

[0073] Referring to FIG. 20, gantry 148 is supported in a position above subfloor 22 by structural arches 146. Gantry 148 provides a role in supporting and anchoring other systems, as will hereinafter be described.

Air Distribution System to Growing Cabinets [0074] Referring to FIG. 10, an air distribution system provides a laminar flow of air. The air distribution system is incorporated into or onto growing cabinet 18 to deliver cold or warm air with carbon dioxide to individual plant leaves so as to provide ideal climatic conditions to encourage photosynthesis and thereby enhance plant growth. A high pressure hose 86 is attached by tubing 87 to a pipe 88 that is sealed at one end 90 and has an air slot 89 along its length from which cooled or warm air with carbon dioxide jets out and over plants growing on multi-levels in cabinet 18. Pipe 88 can be rotated to adjust the direction of the laminar air flow.

Nutrient Distribution System to Growine Cabinets [0075] Referring to FIG. 8 and 11, the nutrient distribution system has been developed so that either aeroponic solution or hydroponic solutions can be circulated. The aeroponic solution is the primary solution which is used most of the time. The hydroponic solution is a back up solution used at regular intervals to condition plants to the use of hydroponic solution, so that hydroponic solution can be used in the event of a catastrophic failure of a delivery system for the aeroponic solution.
[0076] Referring to FIG. 11, when used with hydroponic solution, water, bearing nutrients, is discharged through a slotted opening 95 onto cover 91 and flows down sloped surface 92 passing through perforations 94 into growing cabinet 18.

[0077] Referring to FIG. 8, when used with aeroponic solution, air bearing nutrients is piped up conduit 30 and through aeroponic misting arms 97. Referring to FIG.
11, openings 96 are provided in sloped surface 92 of cover 91 to accommodate aeroponic misting arms 97.
Aeroponic solution passes through openings 96 into growing cabinet 18.
Aeroponic systems are subject to catastrophic failure due to blocked nozzles. It is envisaged that growing cabinet 18 will receive nutrients predominantly by using a pressurized and more productive aeroponic misting system However, when subject to a catastrophic failure from blocked nozzles, it can automatically use a low pressure hydroponic solution.

Isolation of Nutrient Systems [0078] Referring to FIG. 25, it is preferred that each stack of growing cabinets 18 has a closed loop nutrient circulation system generally reference by numeral 100 that includes its own nutrient tank 34 to isolate a stack of growing cabinets 18 against pathogens from other stacks of growing cabinets 18. Each tank 34 has an upper portion 102 and a lower portion 104. A
nutrient pump 106 is provided in upper portion 102 and a stop cock 108 is provided between upper 102 and lower portion 104 to allow nutrients into lower portion 104.
While it is preferred that each stack of growing cabinets 18 has its own nutrient tank 34, one nutrient tank 34 may service multiple stacks of growing cabinets 18 via optional distribution piping 110.

Monitoring Systems [0079] Referring to FIG. 18, each of growing cabinets 18 has a temperature sensor 136 to monitor temperature and a humidity sensor 138 to monitor humidity. Sensors 136 and 138 are connected to automated controls 37. Temperature and humidity are controlled, along with the flow of nutrients to growing cabinet 18 so as to provide the ideal conditions for plant root development. It will be appreciated that other types of sensors could also be included if desired.
Lighting Systems [0080] Referring to FIG. 22, a lighting system is supported from gantry 148.
The lighting system includes a plurality of light tubes 168 extending down between growing cabinets 18.
Referring to FIG. 22, sun tracking reflectors 170 are provided to reflect light into light tubes 168. The lighting system provides light to plants in growing cabinets 18 by using sun tracking reflectors 170 to direct sunlight (or, if required, artificial light) down into vertical light tubes 168 that are suspended between growing cabinets 18 and positioned so as to illuminate up to 8,000 plants at any moment in time.

[0081] Referring to FIG. 22, each light tube 168 is selectively movable between an operative position (as shown on the right side of the illustrations) and an inoperative position moved out of the way to provide clearance (as shown on the left side of the illustrations).

[0082] Referring to FIG. 24, each light tube 168 is biased into the operative position by a spring mounting 184. Spring mounting 184 allows light tube 168 to be moved to the inoperative position shown in FIG. 22 to provide clearance when a force is exerted to overcome the biasing force of spring mounting 184. Referring to FIG. 24, spring mounting 184 returns light tube 168 to the operative position when the force is removed as illustrated in FIG. 22.
With this spring biased version a light tube mounting is provided which is generally identified by reference numeral 166. Light tube mounting 166 includes a wheel 172 which runs along a track 174. A
contact member 176 is provided. When an object exerts a force upon contact member 176, spring 184 is compressed. When the force is removed spring 184 returns the light tube 168 to the operative position.
[0083] Referring to FIG. 23, a light tube mounting is provided which is generally identified by reference numeral 182. Instead of spring 184 as illustrated and described in relation to FIG.
24, light tube mounting 182 uses a drive motor 173 to move light tube 168 it along track 174 as illustrated in FIG. 23.
[0084] Referring to FIG. 32, luminaries 288 are provided on reflective base 290. Luminaries 288 have a transparent cover 292 to allow light to shine through. Sunlight is collected by sun tracking reflectors 170 illustrated in FIG. 22 direct light through optical fibres 296 to luminaries 288. Luminaries 288 are set on reflective base 290 so as to reflect light from floor upwardly to plants in growing cabinet 18.

Cabinet Anchoring System [0085] Referring to FIG. 22, a cabinet anchoring system 188 is provided which includes cables 190 which have a lower end 192 and an upper end 194 as illustrated in FIG. 1. Referring to FIG. 1, lower end 194 of each cable 190 is anchored to one of subfloor 22 or a base 19 of a stack of growing cabinets 18. Referring to FIG. 22, upper end 194 of each cable 190 is anchored to gantry 148. Cables 190 extend through cable receivers 196 in growing cabinets 18 to provide vertical stability to growing cabinets 18. Cables 190 prevent growing cabinets 18 from toppling over, if bumped, and act as a vertical trellis to support the stems of plants in growing cabinets 18.

Evaporative Cooling System for Building Structure [0086] Heat rises and tends to build up at the top of building structure 10.
This heat could be vented to atmosphere, as is done in a conventional greenhouse. Referring to FIG. 3, there is provision for such venting, through opening 164 in upper center 160 of building structure 12.
However, in order to retain carbon dioxide it is preferred that this heat build up be dealt with through a heat exchange with an evaporative cooling system. Referring to FIG, 34 in order to address the problem of heat build up a fan 124 is associated is with each stack of growing cabinets 18. Fans 124 draw warm air from above the stack of growing cabinets 18 down to a heat exchanger in order that a heat exchange may be effected with coolant (preferably water) that has been cooled by an evaporative cooling system.

[0087] Referring to FIG. 16 and FIG. 17, there is provided a form of heat exchanger, generally identified by reference numeral 126. Referring to FIG. 17, heat exchanger 126 includes suspended shower heads 128 with supply pipes 129. Shower heads 128 spray chilled water into a collection chamber 130. Referring to FIG. 17, spray 132 of chilled water 132 cools the warm air that passes through collection chamber 130. Referring to FIG. 16, it then passes through a dehumidifier 134. Referring to FIG. 10, the air is then directed via high pressure hose 86 and tubing 87 to pipe 88 and cooled air passes through air slot 89 over plants. Carbon dioxide may be added to the air. It will be appreciated that if heating of the air is required, heated water would be used instead of chilled water. However, in most cases, it is cooling and not heating of the air that is required. Referring to FIG. 17, spray 132 released from shower heads 128 drains into drainage pipes 133 and is directed to an evaporative cooling system on lower level 26 of building structure 12, to be re-chilled and then re-circulated.

[0088] Referring to FIG. 26, evaporative cooling system, generally referenced by numeral 210, is provided which sends collected water 212 cascading down an internal wall 214, in the process of which collected water 212 is cooled by evaporative cooling, with cooled water being collected in a cool water tank 216 for recirculation and reuse. Although an internal wall has been illustrated, collected water 212 can also be cascaded down an external wall if there are no concerns about contaminants being imported from the external environment.

[0089] Referring to FIG. 26, with evaporative cooling system 210, warm water is collected and channelled around the circumference building structure 12 illustrated in FIG. 1, in a first half-pipe 218 so that it overflows on one or both sides and cools down before being collected in a second half-pipe 220 below so that it can drain into a one or more cool water tanks 216 for further cooling. Generally, the entire system 210 is maintained in a closed environment so as to minimize the chance of contaminating the water with pathogens.
[0090] Referring to FIG. 27, where no waterfall is desired, for example over a doorway 222, half-pipe 218 can be replaced with a full pipe 219 so no water can overflow below.
Referring to FIG. 26, the effectiveness of the evaporative cooling area is determined by the sum of the length of half-pipe 218 multiplied by the distance between first half-pipe 218 and second collection half pipe 220 below. If both sides 224 and 226 of half-pipe 218 are used, the surface area of cooling water doubles.

Infrared Radiation Blocking Systems [0091] Referring to FIG. 21, an infrared radiation blocking barrier 326 is provided to minimize the amount of infrared radiation penetrating building 12. When the heat conditions rise to a level that is dangerous to plant health, blocking barrier 326 can either block, reflect or absorb infrared radiation, while still allowing other visible light to reach the plants. An example of a blocking barrier 326 is ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE). Depending on climatic conditions, blocking barrier 326 serves to keep hot or cool air inside or outside building structure 12 by means of an Aerogel " Blanket securely positioned between two layers of ETFE
foils 328 that may be treated with an IR Reflective coating. Blocking barrier 326 should be located below cladding roof 20 of building structure 12 and can be comprised of several pieces which may overlap. Blocking barrier 326 can be moved between an open position and a closed position. It cannot be a part of support structure 12 because it needs to be in the open position to allow natural sunlight to penetrate the cladding roof 20 when there is little natural sunlight and in the closed position when there is too much direct sunlight, or to help retain heat in structure 12 at night. Blocking barrier 326 can be installed on a mechanism that rolls and unrolls, or on a track that moves from side to side, or that rotates on its axis to quickly deploy into the open or closed position. When in the open position, the blocking barrier 326 should be perpendicular to the face of the sun to present as small a profile as possible to the sun's rays.
When in the closed position, blocking barrier 326 should be immediately adjacent to or overlap its neighboring blocking barrier 326. When in the closed position, blocking barrier 326 reflects and/or absorbs heat or cold, and diffuses natural light within building structure 12 so as to lower the costs of electricity required to operate artificial lights, yet sufficient to grow plants.

[0092] Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, (ETFE), is a kind of plastic that was designed to have high corrosion resistance and strength over a wide temperature range.
Technically ETFE is a polymer, and its systematic name is poly (ethylene-co-tetrafluoroethylene).
ETFE has a very high melting temperature, excellent chemical, electrical and high energy radiation resistance properties.

[0093] AEROGEL is a manufactured material with the lowest bulk density of any known porous solid. It is derived from a gel in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas. The result is an extremely low-density solid, with a notable effectiveness as a thermal insulator. It is nicknamed frozen smoke, solid smoke, solid air or blue smoke due to its translucent nature and the way light scatters in the material; however, it feels like expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) to the touch.

Visual Monitoring Systems [0094] Referring to FIG. 22, cameras 230 that form part of a video monitoring system 232 are anchored to gantry 148. Video cameras 230 allows for monitoring the growth of plants and worker activity in building structure 12 illustrated in FIG. 1, by locating video cameras 230 at set intervals on gantry 148 as shown in FIG. 22. Video cameras 230 are aimed down aisles 17 between growing cabinets 18. Referring to FIG. 1, video cameras send images to a central control area 234.

Mobile Work Platform [0095] Referring to FIG. 22, an upper guide track 242 is provided which is supported by gantry 148. Upper guide track 242 provides stability to mobile work platform 180 shown in FIG. 29. Mobile work platform 180 allows for workers 59 illustrated in FIG. 1, to safely access plant growing positions on high vertical surfaces so that plants can be added, removed, or cropped. Referring to FIG. 22, mobile work guide tracks 242 automatically move mobile work platform 180 without colliding with vertical growing cabinets 18 on either side of aisles 17 illustrated in FIG. 1.

[0096] Referring to FIG. 29 and FIG. 30 , mobile work platform 180 includes a control panel 252. Referring to FIG. 31, vertically oriented wheels 254 and horizontally oriented wheels 256, are also provided. Referring to FIG. 29, mobile work platform 180 further includes a hydraulic motor 258, an electric motor 260, a safety harness 264, a swivel seat 266, and a safety cage 274. Referring to FIG. 30, trolleys 272 are detachably secured on opposed sides of mobile work platform 180. Referring to FIG. 29, trolleys 272 can accommodate various containers 268, tool cribs 270, and trays 275 for seedlings, picked product or other needed items. A
counterweight 262 is provided which offsets the collective weight of mobile work platform 180 and trolleys 272 to reduce the amount of lifting power required. A scale is provided to periodically adjust the weight of counterweights 262 and to log the weight of produce being harvested.

[0097] Referring to FIG. 31 and FIG. 32, a lower guide track for mobile work platform 180 is provided on subfloor 22 in the form of raised concrete guide rails 278. A
lower chassis portion 280 of mobile work platform 180 illustrated in FIG. 29, has vertically oriented wheels 254 that roll along subfloor 22 and opposed horizontally oriented wheels 256 that roll along concrete guide rails 278 as illustrated in FIG. 31.

[0098] Referring to FIG. 29, lower chassis 280 holds electric motor 260 to move the mobile work platform 180 backwards and forwards along aisles 17. Hydraulic motor 258 is provided to drive mobile work platform 180 up and down growing cabinets 18. A hydraulic arm 282 sits outside and not under cage 274 so as to allow mobile work platform 180 to descend to the lowest level possible to harvest produce and transplant seeds without requiring workers 59 illustrated in FIG.1 to get out of mobile work platform 180.

[0099] Referring to FIG. 29, trolleys 272 can be released by lowering hooking mechanism low enough so that selected trolley 272 can be wheeled away on their wheels 277. Swivel seat 266 and empty picking tray 275 allow for workers 59 illustrated in FIG.1 to be comfortable and productive while picking products. Trolleys 272 may include a harvest trolley for harvesting and a transfer trolley. Transfer trolley may loaded with seedlings so that when a space in growing cabinet 18 illustrated in FIG. 2 becomes free because it has been harvested, a seedling can be transplanted into growing cabinet 18 at the same time, and when empty, trolley 272 can be lowered to floor 22 and replaced with a full trolley 272.

[00100] Referring to FIG. 29, an upper chassis portion 298 of mobile work platform 180 moves vertically up and down along a vertical guide 300 that extends between lower guide track 276 illustrated in FIG. 31 and upper guide track 242 illustrated in FIG. 23.
Upper Chassis portion 298 has wheels 310 set vertically and wheels set horizontally 312 to prevent the upper chassis portion 298 from colliding with growing cabinets 18 illustrated in FIG. 29.

[00101] Referring to FIG. 31 and FIG. 32, raised concrete guide rails 278 on subfloor 22 serve a number of additional functions. They serve as forms for self-levelling liquid concrete 314. This is of assistance in preparing a surface upon between guide rails 278 on which growing cabinets will be positioned. They also serve a lateral retainers for the stacks of growing cabinets.
Movable Trellis System [00102] Referring to FIG. 33, a movable trellis system generally referenced by numeral 316 extends between supports. Trellis 316 is movable relative to base 19 supporting stack of growing cabinets 18 as plants grow larger. Movable trellis 316 is movable with relative to both an X and Y axis. Trellis System 316 uses a vertical stainless steel wire 318 on a moveable track 320 at base 19 of growing cabinet 18 to a moveable track 322 on gantry 148 so that by using readily available clips 324, plants stems can be attached to trellis 316 so as to provide additional support to plants, and the trellis and plants can be positioned at the most optimum distance from the growing cabinets 18. When no trellis 316 is required, the trellis system 316 can be removed.
Operation:
[00103] Referring to FIGS 1 through 34, the operation of plant growing system generally identified by reference numeral 10, will now be described. Referring to FIG.
1, while growing walls 16 per se are known, the concept of having multiple parallel spaced growing walls 16 within a confined space is new. With plant growing system 10, as described above, plant density and, consequently, yield is dramatically increased. The length of growing walls 16 is only limited by the physical length and width dimensions of building 22. The height of the growing walls 16 is similarly limited by the physical height dimensions of building 22. It is preferred that growing walls 16 be constructed using growing cabinets 18. It is preferred that some space be left above growing cabinets 16 to allow heat to rise away from the plants and to leave room for needed equipment. It is envisaged that there will be up to fifty to sixty layers of plants in ten to twelve growing cabinets 18 stacked vertically one upon another.

[00104] With the plant growing system 10, as described above, the problem of where to place the needed equipment has been addressed as building 20 has a subfloor 22 dividing building 12 into upper level 24 and lower level 26. Automated controls 37 with manual override are provided to selectively vary water, nutrients or air going to selected stacks 16 of growing cabinets 18 to suit plants being grown and their stage of growth. To provide maximum flexibility when configuring growing walls 16 illustrated in FIG. 1, it is preferred that conduit passages 28 be provided in subfloor 22, arranged in a grid pattern of rows and columns as illustrated in FIG. 4. Referring to FIG. 1, offsetting stacks of growing cabinets 18 on upper level 24, allows for access from below to service each stack of growing cabinets 18. In order to maximize plant growing area on the upper level 24, propagation cabinets 38, micro green cabinets 16, nutrient tanks 34, along with other equipment and storage space are all placed on lower level 26 Referring to FIG. 20, in order to avoid damage to plants caused by pathogens certain preventive measures are taken. An airlock door system isolates an environment within building 22 from an environment external to building 22. This also minimizes the egress of carbon dioxide from and the ingress of fresh air into building 22. Referring to FIG.
25, it is preferred that each stack of growing cabinets 18 has closed loop nutrient circulation system as described above, to isolate each stack of growing cabinets 18 against pathogens from other stacks of growing cabinets 18.

[00105] Research indicates that more rapid plant growth will be experienced when the plant growing system 10 employs an aeroponic delivered nutrient solution. However, aeroponic nutrient delivery systems are prone to blockage and a failure of the aeroponic delivery system can result in plant loss. For that reason it is preferred that both an aeroponic solution and a hydroponic solution are used. As described above, aeroponic solution is the primary solution which is used most of the time. While the hydroponic solution is merely a back up solution, it is nonetheless used at regular intervals to condition the plants to the use of hydroponic solution in the event of a catastrophic failure of a delivery system for the aeroponic solution.

[00106] Referring to FIG. 8, when used with aeroponic solution, air bearing nutrients is piped up conduit 30 and through aeroponic misting arms 97. Referring to FIG.
11, openings 96 are provided in sloped surface 92 of cover 91 to accommodate aeroponic misting arms 97.
Aeroponic solution passes through openings 96 into growing cabinet 18.

[00107] Referring to FIG. 11, in the event that the aeroponic system experiences blocked nozzles, the system will switch to the use of hydroponic solution, with water bearing nutrients being discharged through a slotted opening 95 onto cover 91, flowing down sloped surface 92 and passing through perforations 94 into growing cabinet 18.

[00108] Referring to FIG. 3, pre-fabricated structural arches 146 help to resolve the problem of heat building up in building 12 as arches 146 leave a space above growing cabinets 18 where warm air accumulates. Fans 124 illustrated in FIG. 34 draw warm air from above stack of growing cabinets 18 down to lower level 26 illustrated in FIG. 1. A heat exchange is then effected, as described above in relation to FIG. 16 and FIG. 17. Collected water 212 is then cooled in an evaporative cooling system. Referring to FIG. 26, evaporative cooling system 210 collected water 212 cascading down an internal wall 214, in the process of which collected water 212 is cooled by evaporative cooling, with the collected water then being stored in a cool water tank 216 for recirculation and reuse.

[00109] Referring to FIG. 22 and 23, light tubes 168 are positioned so that they extend down from above between growing cabinets 18 and into aisles 17 illustrated in FIG.
1 to provide sufficient light between closely spaced growing walls 16. Referring to FIG.
22, sun tracking reflector 170 reflects light into light tubes 168. Referring to FIG. 32, fiberoptic cables 296 also supply natural sunlight to a transparent structure 292 embedded in a floor 22 of aisles 17 to provide natural ambient light from below.

[00110] Referring again to FIG. 22 and FIG. 23, as light tubes 168 can get in the way when workers are trying to access the plants on growing walls 16. To address this, each light tube is selectively movable between an operative position and an inoperative position moved out of the way to provide clearance as described above.

[00111] Referring to FIG. 29, mobile work platform 180 allows workers to work at a particular level and then move to a higher or lower level. When planting seedlings or harvesting produce, mobile work platform 180 has one or more detachable wheeled trolleys 272 for carrying the seedlings, plants or harvested produce. Adjustable counterweight 262 adds or subtracts weight as required to counter the weight of mobile work platform 180 as it moves up and down along vertical guide 300, depending upon whether one or more detachable wheeled trolleys 272 have been attached.

Comparison with Greenhouse:
[00112] 1. A greenhouse is capable of having one to three levels of plants. In contrast, the plant growing system described above is capable of having 10 to 12 stacked growing cabinets providing 50 to 60 levels of plants.

[00113] 2. In colder climates greenhouse become economically unfeasible to heat. Building structure 12 is insulated and operates year round.
[00114] 3. Heat buildup within a greenhouse can damage crops. In order to cope with this heat, a greenhouse must open doors and windows to vent heat. Building structure 12 uses evaporative cooling systems and heat exchange systems to dissipate heat.
Building structure 12 has an air lock which isolates the interior of building structure 12 from the external environment.
This allows for a build up carbon dioxide, which increases plant mass and speeds growth.
[00115] 4. A greenhouse can typically have a plant density of between 1 and 9 plants per square foot, depending upon the size of plant being grown. The plant growing system described above can sustain a plant density of between 50 and 60 plants per square foot.
[00116] 5. A greenhouse requires a certain minimum "foot print", representing land area required. The plant growing system described above has a comparatively smaller foot print for the number of plants being grown.

[00117] In this patent document, the word "comprising" is used in its non-limiting sense to mean that items following the word are included, but items not specifically mentioned are not excluded. A reference to an element by the indefinite article "a" does not exclude the possibility that more than one of the element is present, unless the context clearly requires that there be one and only one of the elements.
[00118] The following claims are to be understood to include what is specifically illustrated and described above, what is conceptually equivalent, and what can be obviously substituted.
Those skilled in the art will appreciate that various adaptations and modifications of the described embodiments can be configured without departing from the scope of the claims. The illustrated embodiments have been set forth only as examples and should not be taken as limiting the invention. It is to be understood that, within the scope of the following claims, the invention may be practiced other than as specifically illustrated and described.

Claims (48)

1. A plant growing system, comprising:
a building structure having an interior providing an artificial growing environment;
a plurality of growing walls arranged in a parallel spaced configuration within the building structure with access aisles between adjacent growing walls.
2. The plant growing system of Claim 1, wherein each growing wall is formed from a plurality of growing cabinets arranged horizontally in side by side relation to form a base of the growing wall and a plurality of growing cabinets stacked vertically onto the base to establish a vertical height for the growing wall.
3. The plant growing system of Claim 2, wherein the building structure comprises:
a roof cladding permitting entry of natural sunlight;
a subfloor dividing the building into an upper level and a lower level, the subfloor having a plurality of conduit passages extending therethrough between the upper level and the lower level;
a plurality of the stacks of growing cabinets positioned on the upper level, with each one of the stacks of growing cabinets having an associate conduit passage extending through the subfloor;
sources of at least one of air, water, or nutrients positioned on the lower level and connected to the piping of the stack of growing cabinets by at least one conduit extending through one of the conduit passages; and controls to selectively vary water, nutrients or air going to selected stacks of growing cabinets to suit plants being grown and their stage of growth.
4. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein the conduit passages in the subfloor are arranged in a grid pattern of rows and columns.
5. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein a plurality of propagation cabinets are positioned on the lower level, each propagation cabinet comprising:
a cabinet having opposed side panels;
tray supports on the opposed side panels to support a plurality of horizontally oriented propagation trays stacked vertically.
6. The plant growing system of Claim 5, wherein lights are mounted to an underside of each of the propagation trays to illuminate seeds positioned in an underlying propagation tray.
7. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein each of the growing cabinets comprise:
a cabinet frame having opposed side panels and at least one open face;
a face plate with growing slots to receive growing baskets positioned across the at least one open face.
8. The plant growing system of Claim 7, wherein the growing slots on each face plate are elongated and extend for substantially an entire width of the face plate.
9. The plant growing system of Claim 8, wherein spacers are provided to close that portion of the growing slot not filled by one or more growing baskets.
10. The plant growing system of Claim 7, wherein at least one of an aeroponic solution or a hydroponic solution is circulated through the growing cabinet.
11. The plant growing system of Claim 10, wherein both an aeroponic solution and a hydroponic solution are used, the aeroponic solution being the primary solution which is used most of the time and the hydroponic solution being a back up solution used at regular intervals to condition the plants to the use of hydroponic solution in the event of a catastrophic failure of a delivery system for the aeroponic solution.
12. The plant growing system of Claim 10, wherein each growing basket has a mesh lower surface to allow access to at least one of the aeroponic solution or the hydroponic solution circulated within the growing cabinet.
13. The plant growing system of Claim 7, wherein the growing cabinets, when arranged in a stack, are placed onto an underlying base having a sloped bottom communicating with a drainage conduit.
14. The plant growing system of Claim 2, wherein each of the growing cabinets has external conduit connectors.
15. The plant growing system of Claim 14, wherein each of the growing cabinets has at least one external channel on one of the sides, when the growing cabinets are placed in side by side relation the external channels collectively form a duct.
16. The plant growing system of Claim 15, wherein a fan is associated with each stack of the growing cabinets, the fan drawing warm air from above the stack of growing cabinets down to be chilled through a heat exchange with a cooling system.
17. The plant growing system of Claim 2, wherein each of the growing cabinets has at least one sensor to monitor at least one of temperature or humidity.
18. The plant growing system of Claim 7, wherein the growing cabinets, when arranged in a stack, the stack of growing cabinets has a cover with a sloped surface that is perforated, water being discharged onto the cover flowing down the sloped surface and passing through the perforations into the growing cabinet.
19. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein the at least one conduit includes an electrical power conduit.
20. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein an airlock system isolates an environment within the building from an environment external to the building, the airlock system including a first door, a second door and an airlock space between the first door and the second door, the first door only opening when the second door is closed and the second door only opening when the first door is closed.
21. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein the roof cladding is supported by a plurality of structural arches.
22. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein a gantry supported in a position above the subfloor.
23. The plant growing system of Claim 22, wherein the gantry is supported in a position above the subfloor by structural arches.
24. The plant growing system of Claim 22, wherein a lighting system is supported from the gantry.
25. The plant growing system of Claim 24, wherein the lighting system is comprised of:
a plurality of light tubes extending down between the growing cabinets;
a sun tracking reflector to reflect light into the light tubes.
26. The plant growing system of Claim 2, wherein light tubes extend down from above between the growing cabinets and into the aisles.
27. The plant growing system of Claim 26, wherein each light tube selectively movable between an operative position and an inoperative position moved out of the way to provide clearance.
28. The plant growing system of Claim 27, wherein each light tube is biased into the operative position by a spring mounting, the spring mounting allowing the light tube to be moved to the inoperative position to provide clearance when a force is exerted to overcome the biasing force of the spring mounting, the spring mounting returning the light tube to the operative position when the force is removed.
29. The plant growing system of Claim 27, wherein a drive system is provided to move each light tube between the operative position and the inoperative position.
30. The plant growing system of Claim 22, wherein a cabinet support structure comprises cables which have a lower end and an upper end, the lower end each of each cable being anchored to one of the subfloor or a base of a stack of growing cabinets, the upper end of each cable being anchored to the gantry, the cables extending through cable receivers in the growing cabinets to provide vertical stability to the growing cabinets.
31. The plant growing system of Claim 2, wherein retainers projecting upwardly from the subfloor confine a base of a stack of growing cabinets.
32. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein an evaporative cooling system is provided comprising warm water cascading down at least one of an internal wall or an external wall in the process of which the water is cooled by evaporative cooling, with cooled water being collected and stored in a cool water tank for recirculation and reuse.
33. The plant growing system of Claim 2, wherein each stack of growing cabinets has a closed loop nutrient circulation system to isolate the stack of growing cabinets against pathogens from other stacks of growing cabinets.
34. The plant growing system of Claim 22, wherein cameras forming part of a video monitoring system are anchored to the gantry.
35. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein the building has at least one end which is semi-circular with a semi-circular ramp providing access between the upper level and the lower level.
36. The plant growing system of Claim 22, wherein an upper guide track for a mobile work platform is supported by the gantry.
37. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein a lower guide track for a mobile work platform is provided on the subfloor in the form of raised concrete guide rails, a lower chassis portion of the mobile work platform having vertically oriented wheels which roll along the subfloor and opposed horizontally oriented wheels which roll along the concrete guide rails.
38. The plant growing system of Claim 1, wherein fiberoptic cables supply natural sunlight to a transparent structure embedded in a floor of the aisles to provide natural ambient light from below.
39. The plant growing system of Claim 37, wherein an upper chassis portion of the mobile work platform moves vertically up and down along a vertical guide that extends between the lower guide track and the upper guide track.
40. The plant growing system of Claim 39, wherein the upper chassis portion of the mobile work platform has at least one detachable wheeled trolley for carrying at least one of seedlings, plants or harvested produce.
41. The plant growing system of Claim 40, wherein an adjustable counterweight assembly is provided to add or subtract weight as required to counter the weight of the upper chassis portion of the mobile work platform as it moves up and down along the vertical guide, pending upon whether one or more detachable wheeled trolleys have been attached to the mobile work platform.
42. The plant growing system of Claim 2, wherein a movable trellis system extends between supports, the trellis being movable relative to the base supporting a stack of growing cabinets.
43. The plant growing system of Claim 42, the movable trellis being movable with relative to both an X and Y axis.
44. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein raised concrete guide rails on the subfloor serve as forms for self-levelling liquid concrete.
45. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein an air distribution system provides a laminar flow of air to plants within the growing cabinets.
46. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein one of an infrared radiation blocking barrier is provided to block, reflect or absorb infrared radiation.
47. The plant growing system of Claim 46, wherein the blocking barrier is of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE).
48. The plant growing system of Claim 3, wherein air is supplied to the growing cabinets, the air being thermally conditioned by passing through a conditioning chamber in which a series of shower heads discharge water, such that the air is heated or cooled to a desired temperature as it passes through the conditioning chamber.
CA2727502A 2011-01-12 2011-01-12 Plant growing system Abandoned CA2727502A1 (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
CA2727502A CA2727502A1 (en) 2011-01-12 2011-01-12 Plant growing system

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
CA2727502A CA2727502A1 (en) 2011-01-12 2011-01-12 Plant growing system

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
CA2727502A1 true CA2727502A1 (en) 2012-07-12

Family

ID=46491864

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
CA2727502A Abandoned CA2727502A1 (en) 2011-01-12 2011-01-12 Plant growing system

Country Status (1)

Country Link
CA (1) CA2727502A1 (en)

Cited By (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
CN107006296A (en) * 2017-05-03 2017-08-04 桂林苏桥瑞芯科技股份有限公司 A kind of outdoor shape plant factor
CN111735908A (en) * 2020-05-06 2020-10-02 安徽科技学院 Device and method for batch identification of wheat salt tolerance
CN113057049A (en) * 2021-03-16 2021-07-02 安徽农业大学 Agricultural intelligent platform based on Internet of things
CN113701812A (en) * 2021-08-24 2021-11-26 中国辐射防护研究院 Airborne nuclide environment migration simulation test device
CN113976096A (en) * 2021-09-22 2022-01-28 吕凌辉 Processing equipment and processing method of graphene modified degradable material
US11745033B2 (en) * 2019-03-17 2023-09-05 Brett Patrick Process and apparatus to preclude unfiltered atmospheric gases and human respiration products including carbon-dioxide with carbon-14 from entering controlled greenhouse atmospheric gases

Cited By (8)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
CN107006296A (en) * 2017-05-03 2017-08-04 桂林苏桥瑞芯科技股份有限公司 A kind of outdoor shape plant factor
US11745033B2 (en) * 2019-03-17 2023-09-05 Brett Patrick Process and apparatus to preclude unfiltered atmospheric gases and human respiration products including carbon-dioxide with carbon-14 from entering controlled greenhouse atmospheric gases
CN111735908A (en) * 2020-05-06 2020-10-02 安徽科技学院 Device and method for batch identification of wheat salt tolerance
CN111735908B (en) * 2020-05-06 2022-09-02 安徽科技学院 Device and method for batch identification of wheat salt tolerance
CN113057049A (en) * 2021-03-16 2021-07-02 安徽农业大学 Agricultural intelligent platform based on Internet of things
CN113701812A (en) * 2021-08-24 2021-11-26 中国辐射防护研究院 Airborne nuclide environment migration simulation test device
CN113701812B (en) * 2021-08-24 2023-06-16 中国辐射防护研究院 Airborne nuclide environment migration simulation test device
CN113976096A (en) * 2021-09-22 2022-01-28 吕凌辉 Processing equipment and processing method of graphene modified degradable material

Similar Documents

Publication Publication Date Title
US20170223904A1 (en) Fodder Growing System and Method
ES2941045T3 (en) Modular farm with carousel system
US11849685B2 (en) Method and system for the air conditioning of closed environments, in particular for vertical farms
US20180235156A1 (en) High Density Horticulture Growing Systems, Methods and Apparatus
CA2727502A1 (en) Plant growing system
DK179885B1 (en) Growth House
CA3028899C (en) A system and method of growing plants in the absence of soil
ES2965936T3 (en) Structure for the cultivation and transportation of agricultural products
US20160212945A1 (en) Fodder Growing System and Method
MX2012005610A (en) Greenhouse and forced greenhouse climate control system and method.
CN110402843A (en) A kind of mobile automatic cultivating system of panel herding
EP0209932A1 (en) A greenhouse for intensive utilization
KR20170004403A (en) Vegetable cultivation apparatus using a container
KR100921605B1 (en) Crops cultivation system of horizontal structure
CN109561658B (en) Tank for accommodating vertical farm
KR200480089Y1 (en) apparatus for cultivating mashroom
CA1180898A (en) Installation for cultivating plants in a programmed milieu
JPH01235524A (en) Fully controlled plant factory
WO2004071174A1 (en) System for cultivation of plants
JP6989937B2 (en) Heating system for plant greenhouses
AU2017202677A1 (en) Fodder growing system and method
US20230309477A1 (en) Automated vertical micro-farm
KR20240044679A (en) Plant cultivation system using agv
JPH01225422A (en) Building for perfect control type plant factory
JPH0463656B2 (en)

Legal Events

Date Code Title Description
FZDE Dead

Effective date: 20140114