Ag-tech company Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies continues to commercialise its Root Zone Temperature Optimisation (RZTO) heating and cooling technology, securing three sales in new segments and markets last month. Roots’ entry into cannabis, basil and hydroponic greenhouses all followed successful pilots in these sectors, which is proving to be a winning marketing strategy for the company.
Roots recently obtained its first sale supplying ag-tech equipment to the lucrative medical cannabis market. The RZTO sale in central Israel followed promising interim proof of concept cooling results on medicinal cannabis planted in greenhouse in July, where cooled plants achieved a substantial increase in plant size and stem diameter compared to control crops in just two months.
During the world-first proof of concept on medicinal cannabis, Roots’ RZTO cooling technology was used to keep the root zone of cannabis plants at a favourable temperature range, more than seven degrees below the root zones of the control crops.
Roots CEO and co-founder Dr Sharon said the sale is a good example of the versatility and adaptability of Roots’ RZTO technology on various crops and environments.
We believe this sale will support a growing body of evidence that our technology provides optimal growing conditions essential for achieving high yield and healthy plants.”
“The medicinal cannabis sector is expected to reach US$31 billion in sales globally over the next four years. Utilising RZTO technology allows growers to provide optimal growing conditions for demanding cannabis plants, increasing profitability while reducing energy use.”
In October Roots also sold its RZTO system for use on basil crops for the first time. The sale in Israel was supported by an up to 30 percent subsidy for basil farmers purchasing Roots’ RZTO technology, granted by the Israeli Government in September.
The purchasing farmer had previously taken part in a successful pilot during the Israeli winter, where the roots of traditional summer basil plants were heated an average of five-degrees warmer using Roots’ RZTO technology. The heated plants grew faster than control planting, increasing yield and average plant size by 66 and 35 per cent respectively.
Mr Devir said the order highlighted the importance of commercial pilots in the ag-tech sector, enabling farmers to test new technology on different crops, environment and growing conditions before purchasing.
“During the pilot we were able to demonstrate to the farmer the economic value of our root zone heating and cooling technology. Stabilising the basil roots temperature during winter allowed the farmer to dramatically increase crop production and yield, extending seasonal crop growth periods year-round with relatively low energy costs and, ultimately, increase profitability.”
Roots has also finalised its move into South Korea’s ag-tech sector, securing its first commercial order for two RZTO systems to be used with TapKit, a Nutrient Film Technique technology developed by Teshuva Agricultural Projects. The order came a little over a month after Roots signed a non-exclusive distribution agreement with leading Korean ag-tech distributor Ezfarm and is expected to be the first of many contracts under the agreement.
Earlier this year the two companies completed a successful TapKit demonstration in Israel, where the combined NFT and RZTO technologies cooled the nutrient temperature of hydroponic lettuce during a pilot at a commercial farm. Despite ambient air temperatures in the greenhouse of nearly 40 degrees, the bare plant roots immersed at the nutrient fluid remained within favourable growing ranges more than 11 degrees lower. This increased production quality and shortened the growing cycle by almost 20 percent compared to NFT greenhouses where no nutrient temperature control is used.
Mr Devir said South Korea represents an exciting ongoing market opportunity for the company’s cutting-edge plant climate management technology.
“It is ideal for farmers in South Korea, who must deal with challenging conditions of cold, dry winters and hot, humid summers. Winters are too cold for normal agricultural growth, even in greenhouses. Summer temperatures are often so hot that farmers cannot grow high quality leaves or vegetables in most parts of the country.”