At Fancyleaf we saw the need for a new design of channel, specifically for our crop, Fancy Lettuce. While we started growing in 65mm round pipe and eventually overcame a few problems associated with this channel, there was two problems we could not do anything about. Being a round pipe there was a small problem with nutrient damming as the root mass grew, but the main problem was one of fixing. Whenever plants grew to a reasonable size the outside channel on each bench was in danger of turning. This meant a loss of crop and a loss of time putting tables back together.
From another aspect however the channel was fine. The very rounded top meant the bottom leaves of each plant had room to grow, but more importantly any rain very quickly drained meaning bottom leaves dried quickly. We persisted with the original 65mm tables, but when the time came to develop a new area looked for alternatives. We found some 100mm wide, removable lid channel which we managed to secure quite cheaply. This expansion was approximately 300 benches.
We set them all up with the flat topped channel, and immediately had problems we had not experienced before. Whenever it rained the bottom leaves which were lying on the flat channel became wet, and with water between the leaves and the channel, disease becme a major problem. Both leaf rots and stem rots caused a lot of frustation and the use of a lot of fungicides to try and combat the problem. Eventually we said enough!
So, we thought about alternatives, and looked at what was already available that would give us what we wanted. There wasn’t anything designed by the growers that had to use the product. So we did it ourselves, using one of our companies, Simplicity Control Systems.
The result is the Simplicity Hydroponic Channel.