Where are you located?
Gardens, Cape Town. We are at Unit 7, Lubelle Court, Scott st. The entrance is just off Buitenkant st, between Narona's and City Veg, on Scott St. If you can see Deluxe Coffee, or Chinn's Pharmacy, we're across the road.
What is GrowOpz?
We are a store and hydroponics lab, offering state-of-the-art LED grow lights and hydroponics products, since 2015. GrowOpz is the home of Natural Selection Software (Pty) Ltd.
At our office in Gardens, we grow microgreens in high-density vertical growing systems, using timers and microprocessors to automate light, water, air and nutrient delivery. Because we use the most efficient LEDs in the world, we can grow 18 trays at a time, using less than a unit of electricity per day, regardless of the weather outside.
Whether you are setting up an individual home grow or a multifunctional commercial facility, our hands on team of grow specialists will be delighted to discuss, and help out with your project.
We educate on relevant research, report on the latest trends, and integrate best practices from universities (and other growers on youtube) into our own setups. We follow an open-source philosophy, and report on experiments, because our goals are bigger than just making money. We hope to increase awareness of sustainable practices, implement automated food growing techniques, and make these advances available to everyone. The agricultural revolution is right here, right now.
What is hydroponics? (and why is it important?)
Hydroponics is growing plants without soil. A nutrient enriched water is kept in a reservoir, and using various techniques, that water is delivered directly to the roots. Hydroponics uses 1% to 5% as much water as traditional farming methods.
In 2018, Cape Town might become the first city to run out of water. Climate change is disrupting annual rainfall, destroying ecosystems, and causing more droughts and floods.
Over 60% of our drinking water goes to irrigating farmland, evaporating quickly in the heat. If we grew all our produce using hydroponic systems, agriculture would only use 3% of our drinking water, which would solve the water crisis rather definitively.
Because hydroponics typically takes place in more controlled environments, the speed of plant growth increases. Pesticides aren't necessary, and crops are able to grow year-round.
It's not just a technique for growing high-value crops like "medical" marijuana and high-end produce for restaurants, but until it is widely adopted, these are typically the only areas where it is profitable on a smaller scale. Larger investments in Japan, the US, Europe, Singapore, China are bridging that gap though, and even in South Africa, warehouses and greenhouse tunnels are being converted right now, to at least use hydroponic principles, such as wicking beds.
Japanese hydroponics producing 10K heads of lettuce per day, 2014
What is urban farming?
Most of our agriculture is grown in farmland, and is transported hundreds or thousands of kilometers, in refrigerated supply chains, through various levels of storage and distribution, before you finally pick it off the shelf at your local supermarket.
Urban farming takes various forms, but the general focus is on creating local produce. In South Africa, where hunger and food access are issues for about 10% and 25% of the population, respectively, there would be many benefits of increasing the number of 'micro-farmers'. If labour is not factored in as a cost, community gardens in the US were found to create $6 of produce per $1 invested. In South Africa, where unemployment is officially near 25% and more likely above 40%, urban farming has the potential for reducing poverty, and increasing nutritional food security for thousands of people.
The increase of rainwater collection, and greywater reuse allows greener landscapes to offset our carbon footprints by reabsorbing CO2. We can create a paradise, with little more than forward thinking, investment and effort.
Bosco Verticale in Italy - Skyscraper of the year, 2015
What's the difference between LED/HID/CFL technologies?
The main differences in these technologies, are efficiency, longevity, and spectrum. In short, our Cree, Bridgelux and Samsung LEDs outperform the best HPS lights by over 50%, and will last about three times longer.
LM-80 and LM-90 data (the estimated lifespan, and loss of efficiency per year) is better for LEDs than any of the HID or CFL technologies.
The simplest measure of efficiency is 'Wall Plug Efficiency' - how much electricity is converted to light? The top HPS bulbs on the market (eg. Gavita Pro DE) max out at 40% efficiency, whereas our Cree and Samsung LEDs achieve over 60% efficiency.
Note that this efficiency is before taking heat management into account. Since any electricity that is not converted to light is being wasted as heat, HPS lights run significantly hotter, and require additional electricity for cooling.
With regard to lifespans, HPS bulbs often need to be replaced every year, but because LEDs are solid state devices, they have average lifespans of 50,000+ hours.
The lifespan of an LED is also such that it will generally 'fail fast' or last a long time, so we perform a short burn-in test before shipping a light, to lower the chance that we accidentally sell a dud LED.
Finally, the spectrums of LED lights are more easily customised, and the wavelengths of light given out by LEDs much more closely resemble the absorption spectrum of plants than do HID and CFL lights.
There are so many LED grow lights on the market. Why buy from GrowOpz?
Watt per watt, you won't find a better, cheaper light than from us. Really! If you think you have, bring it in, and let's test it with our watt meter and PAR meter, and see.
One customer reports that our QB-60 (60W true draw) grows cannabis plants better than their Mars Hydro 300 (132W true draw).
We follow the trends in the forums and in the marketplace, and create grow lights equivalent to the best lights on the market, at a fraction of the cost of equivalent wattage brands.
We use top bin Samsung and Cree LEDs, with the highest efficiency of any LEDs in the world. We use Mean Well HLG and ELG drivers, with the highest efficiency and longevity of any LED driver in the world. We use bigger heatsinks and more fans than you'll find on any other growlight.
We have experience, expert knowledge, and helpful staff who have set up some of the largest hydroponic operations in South Africa.We also have grow lights for every budget. Our affordable "Make Light" classic range, use 3W Epistar and Bridgelux LED dies, with 95% transmission lenses, to achieve similar results to HPS per watt.