Greg Richter is regarded as a gifted engineer in a number of different fields, including power generation, avionics, broadcasting and now leading-edge hydroponic growth technologies.
Greg is credited with being the creator of the now-famous GroBot, a revolutionary grow room environmental solution. As any proud Bot owner knows, the device goes way beyond any “grow room control.” We are talking about remote actuation, commands and alerts: two-way intelligence. Enter robotics!
That’s right, in case you were not already aware, the GroBot manufactured by Greg’s company, PurGro, allows growers to monitor and control temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, lighting, reservoir fill and drains. Oh, and did we mention you can add and measure nutrient components for feeding your crop even if you are on the other side of the world? And naturally, in case you aren’t using a pH Perfect feeding program, you can even control and adjust the pH to your preset optimal levels.
Sure, having this level of control is amazing, but how do you maintain peace of mind that the machine isn’t going to make a mistake, considering the autonomy over the grow room you have yielded to it? What if a piece of equipment that it’s controlling fails, and you aren’t there every day to spot it, because you are enjoying the freedom that the Bot is giving you?
If you told the Bot to do so, it will email you if one of the growing parameters, such as temperature, is out of whack. Naturally, this tells you that something is malfunctioning and that you or a trusted friend will need to visit the grow to see what’s going on. Yes, that’s correct: the Bot can send you alerts about anything you ask it to. Using the easy interface from your smartphone or computer, you can add nutrients, change the res, foliar feed (yes, you can!), adjust temperature or anything that you might normally do manually through the Bot. Maybe Greg’s next step will be for the Bot to harvest for you, and even make the deposit into your bank account.
Sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?
Actually, Greg doesn’t think so. That’s because he, like other revolutionaries in the hydroponics industry, is never content with something that just does the job — even if it’s a heck of a job that it’s doing incredibly well.
Rosebud Magazine: Can you tell us how an avionics engineer finds himself developing and marketing the slickest, most sophisticated grow room environmental solutions to date?
Greg Richter: In part I have Marisa [Greg’s other half, who has been a driving force in the development and widespread popularity of the Bot] to thank, especially when it comes to making sure that every serious grower out there has a chance to get their hands on this level of technology. However, going back further than that, like a lot of ideas, it started in the kitchen.
I have a real passion for cuisine, and naturally having the highest-quality ingredients on hand potentiates the best-tasting meals, not unlike all the components that go into the best-quality nutrient solutions.
Anyways, I was going through so much fresh basil, oregano, tarragon and other herbs and fresh-grown ingredients at my restaurant [that’s right, Greg owned a restaurant, too] that I knew I had to get a handle on the supply for consistency and quality. Naturally, the next step from there was to begin growing my own. The obvious solution was rooted in hydroponic growing methods.
Things really took flight after I realized how time-consuming managing a hydroponic garden could be. It was obvious to me that an intelligent machine could easily perform a lot of the tasks that I felt were keeping me chained to my garden and away from my other pursuits. So I set to work, and after several different generations, I had a working GroBot in my hands. Marisa convinced me that there were plenty of other growers who wanted the freedoms and results I was getting, so we set out and created PurGro.
RM: What are some of the challenges PurGro has faced getting to present day?
GR: In building precision equipment, sometimes you have to manufacture your own components in order to meet a certain standard, or in some instances, to keep costs down. As a matter of fact, one of my old suppliers is now one of my customers for a certain component I began to manufacture myself.
I guess in a lot of respects, the challenges that have been numerous have been blessings in a lot of respects. Never being content to settle or quit has often helped PurGro make some quantum leaps in the way we do things.
RM: What about today, what’s your biggest challenge?
GR: Easily one of the more difficult challenges right now was finding competent distribution that can not only help to get our product on store shelves, but one that can actually help to service what they sell. Some of the big guys in the hydroponics industry don’t seem to have a clue. They just see this industry as dollars and cents, with no real regard to how it benefits growers or what the technology does. Some even think they can copy us. But, when you build your own components and write your own firmware, they can’t even come close.
This mentality goes against everything that PurGro is about. Luckily, I work with as many of our end users as I possibly can in a day, and I’m getting some positive feedback and a lot of useful suggestions, which has helped us create the GroBot EVO.
RM: What’s an EVO?
GR: It’s the next step in what PurGro has to offer growers. What I am getting from a lot of our guys is that they like to run some portions of their ops, for example, mother rooms, in drain-to-waste setups. We also have a lot of growers who like to go soilless because of the flexibility it gives them in their feeding programs.
The EVO has been developed with these growers in mind. The EVO is also completely wireless, with the pH and TDs probes built-in, not floating around in your res. She also has a wireless Ethernet server built in so you can connect to the EVO with any WiFi device — and the proper security, of course. We added big 3-liter removable ’nute containers, and the ability to hook directly to ‘nute jugs and drums. In short, everything our customers have asked for, we did. We even did the less-than-24-hour programmable day length and the ability for the GroBot to upgrade herself by pulling new firmware from the PurGro website on command. We tried to get all those ideas in there. We are proud to say that for those who are using our GroBot and would prefer a GroBot EVO, we can hook you up with our buy-back program so you can upgrade for a minimal cost if the EVO suits you better. Naturally, we expect a lot of folks aren’t going to give up their GroBots too.
RM: I would be one of those peeps.
GR: Ha, not surprised there! I’m happy to say that you guys are going to be the first in the industry to try out the new EVO so you can let everyone else know what you think!
There you have it. Greg the grow room automator. Master engineer, inventor, chef, grower, visionary and all-around great guy who is an active member in the hydroponics community. We at Rosebud cannot wait to give the new EVO a go, because the GroBot has impressed us thoroughly. Even while traveling overseas, the GroBot helped to maintain our hydro rose garden perfectly, and it even let us know in one instance when the crops used up water faster than expected. It’s an amazing and elating feeling to come home to perfect-looking plants after almost three weeks on the road. We expect to see and hear lots from Greg and Marisa in the times to come. You can get in touch with them at www.purgro.com or even say hello to them on Facebook.
© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2012
To create link towards this article on your website,
copy and paste the text below in your page.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012