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World Watch On Greenhouses

From the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology

For immediate release

WORLD WATCH ON GREENHOUSES

An Auckland company is wrapping up final tests on a controller that can monitor greenhouses anywhere in the world, from anywhere.

"It shows on a computer what's going on in the greenhouse - humidity or temperature, for example - and controls such things as vents, nutrient mix and irrigation," says Autogrow Systems Ltd technical director Jeff Broad.

The controller was developed with help from Technology New Zealand, the Government agency that invests in research into new products, processes and services as part of the Government's plan to fashion a knowledge-based economy. Sales of the product are expected to create new jobs and bring expertise back to New Zealand from overseas.

Mr Broad, an electronics engineer in computer technology, says the project arose from a joint venture with greenhouse maker Harfords Greenhouses, of Christchurch.

"They were buying controllers from Canada that they thought were expensive - $20,000-$30,000 each - and clunky. The controllers weren't doing what they wanted."

He says that the PC, as well as monitoring what is going on in the greenhouse, will even phone a grower's pager during an alarm.

"It also enables the grower, a consultant, or our help-desk to view and change all available settings anywhere in the world. We can do systems diagnostics from anywhere, which will save the cost of a trip to a site."

Mr Broad says the controller is aimed at commercial growers and horticulturists. "It gives then certainty in the product they grow. "Basically, we can get them out of trouble at minimal cost - by looking at their settings, the weather and so on."

Autogrow Systems makes electronic control gear for the horticultural industry. Mr Broad says the firm employs three full-time and two part-time staff, and initial demand for the controller has already exceeded expectations.

"Selling this product will mean more jobs," he says. "It'll bring jobs home from Canada."

-ends-

Contact * Jeff Broad, Autogrow Systems Ltd, Unit C6, 5 Douglas Alexander Parade, Albany, Auckland. Ph/fax: (09) 415-2380. Email: jeff@hydro.co.nz * Ian Gray, Technology New Zealand (Auckland Office) at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. Ph: (09) 912-6730, or 021 660-409. Website: www.technz.co.nz

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525, ian@idcomm.co.nz


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