The basic Autopot System consists of a plant pot on a membrane in a container. This container has a SmartValve built into it which is fed from a nutrient tank. As the plant in the pot uses nutrient the level of nutrient in the Autopot container is maintained by the SmartValve. This means that the plant always has the optimum level of nutrient at its disposal. As the plant grows and needs more nourishment, the SmartValve opens more frequently to Replenish the nutrient supply from the tank. Because the plant pot is sat on a membrane, it will only take up what it needs in the way of moisture. This system ensures that the plant does not become too wet and drown or rot, neither can it dry out provided that the tank is kept topped up.
In our climate in the United Kingdom, where rainfall is often quite high and sunshine limited, I have found that the results obtained with the Autopot system have far outstripped those of a coventional system of soil and a growbag. These results have only been studied so far using tomatoes, however I have no doubt that the same benefits would apply to virtually any type of plant.
I have grown a crop of tomatoes from seed this year and for the first time tried the Autopot system against a growbag and against pots hand watered with nutrient solution. The substrate used was washed coco. The seedlings were grown on to about 4" in height using rockwool cubes and a small propagation tray. They were transplanted into 8" pots (3 plants per pot.) and the pots placed in either Autopot systems or into containers about 2" deep. Some were planted in soil in Growbags.
The Autopots were connected to a nutrient tank and the trayed pots were watered twice daily using nutrient from the same tank. The plants in the Growbags were watered daily and had plant food added to the water as directed on the container. It was found that the Grobag plants did not grow as well as the others and fruited less abundantly. The plants in pots and containers on trays fruited well, but during hot spells needed more frequent watering as the coco does not retain moisture.
By far the best results were obtained from the Autopots. The plants grew quickly and were soon very well established. The root balls soon became dense and well formed. Within a short time the plants became sturdier than there less fortunate siblings and started to flower.
I had deliberately done no maintenance with any of the plants. They were planted, fed and left to grow without interference. This meant that the crops would be smaller than if I had pinched out the shoots, but there could be no discrepancy due to better maintenance. The results were quite staggering. The trayed plants produced some 250% - 300% more fruit than the Growbags and the Autopot had at least double the crop produced by the trayed plants.
The only drawback with the Autopot was that when it rained the water falling onto the surface of the substrate ran back into the nutrient container causing it to overfill. This problem did not seem to be detrimental to the plant's growth or yield.
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