Gas phase feeding: an aerosol-led greenhouse revolution?

Australian firm Airofresh Intl, already engaged in ambient- and cold-storage technology, has expanded into protected-cropping tech with the launch of a novel system for optimising nutrient delivery to crops.

The new system includes a commercial-scale gas phase feeding (GPF) capacity, enabling growers to reap the benefits of atmosphere feeding – delivering crucial nutrients to greenhouse-grown fruit and veg in an easily-applied aerosol spray.

AiroFresh Founding Director Jonathan Taylor told Fresh Plaza the idea for aerosol delivery to greenhouse plants came when the R&D team conducting research on water-management devices for the company realised its water-processing work could be applied to water-vapour and atmosphere technology.

“We were able to produce an essential plant nutrient from the atmosphere … no-one has done that yet,” Taylor told Fresh Plaza.

Increased yield, no mould and disease resistance

After some promising laboratory trials they got access to a 20,000 cubic-metre facility, and “the difference between our GPF room and the ‘control’ room was … huge.”

Research and commercial results to date display production increases of between 30 and 80 per cent in fruit volumes, maintaining commercial size, as well as robust plants with greater resistance to disease, no problems with moulds or fungi – an issue when spraying nutrients dissolved in water.

A bonus: the AiroFresh Intl unit is able to purify the air in both greenhouses and coolrooms, destroying fungi, mould, bacteria and viruses. It’s even been Australian-university tested against the MS2 virus, a reputable surrogate test for COVID-19.

A flexible, sustainable solution

“This technology is affordable, portable, solar-capable and adaptable to any location,” Taylor told Fresh Plaza. “We are thrilled to be able to offer greenhouse producers a technology solution which uniquely combines these production advantages with air purification and ethylene control benefits. Being a certified organic process, this new ability to ‘feed the plants’ is especially valuable for organic and zero-residue producers.”

Tech tweaks

The team has since tweaked the technology to integrate customised electric and magnetic fields and sequential photon energy, enabling the system to generate constant ‘therapeutic levels’ of performance-impacting nutrients in the greenhouse atmosphere, Taylor said.

Taylor declined to disclose the details of the firm’s aerosol technology. “But it is very successful and is absorbed by plants like a sponge… enabl[ing] that plant to become stronger and fruit better,” he said.

On the horizon: global expansion

Unable to find any direct competitors in the GPF space, the company has begun the process of registering the IP for its GPF unit.

The unit is already available for purchase in Australia. Now, Airofresh Intl is working with companies in Europe and the United States to launch the technology internationally – and fine-tuning the spray to ensure the optimal nutrient concentration based on findings from its greenhouse trial research.

Read the full story in Fresh Plaza.

Source: “The fruit doesn’t necessarily get much bigger but there is more fruit” I Fresh Plaza