BRIEF: Welsh hydroponics startup Phytoponics raises fresh round of £500k

April 30, 2020

The Welsh controlled environment farming company Phytoponics designs, develops, and supplies Deep Water Culture systems for large scale hydroponic crop production. This week, the company informs AFN, it has completed another £500,000 ($650k) equity financing round.

The investment, which follows one of a similar sum two years ago, comes from existing shareholders with match funding provided by the Development Bank of Wales as the company’s first institutional investor.

Founded in October 2016 by Adam Dixon and Luke Parkin in October 2016, Phytoponics is headquartered in Aberystwyth in Wales, and currently has a technical R&D facility at Stockbridge Technology Centre, a horticultural and agriculture innovation hub in the north of England.

Phytoponics has a number of controlled-environment glasshouses equipped with various configurations of its Deep Water Culture hydroponics technology. In them, the company is growing different varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, snack peppers, and strawberries, along with other experimental crops. The company is also working with Edward Baarda Limited, the first commercial grower in the UK to deploy Phytoponics technology at scale growing tomatoes hydroponically without a rockwool substrate.

Thinking deeply

“I understand that the Deep Water Culture systems out there at the moment tend to focus on leafy greens rather than more energy-dense crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers,” CEO Andy Jones tells AFN in an emailed note.

His company, he says, has been working on a system to work with these energy-dense crops. “Typically, these crops are grown commercially in substrate, though I know some use NFT, and our Deep Water Culture approach is ‘substrate-less’ which gives it the sustainability edge.”

Deep Water Culture, according to Jones, allows “much more consistent control of the root zone in oxygenated nutrient solution which avoids oxygen depletion zones ultimately leading to greater generative growth. We are currently undertaking ‘side by side’ commercial trials to demonstrate the performance of Deep Water Culture versus rockwool.”

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