Autopot® Systems

(03) 9701 8811

810 Springvale Rd, Braeside VIC 3195, Australia

Copyright © 2019 Agromatic Corporation Pty Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Common FAQs Related To AutoPot® Systems.

For a more detailed reference, the book "Hydroponics Made Easy" written by Jim Fah, the inventor of AutoPot® Systems is available from your local stockist.

Aquaponics - Autopot® & nutrients?

Q: Hi, I am interested in Aquaponics and I was browsing through your website and read the pdf about aquaponics using the Autopot system. My question is, if you are seeding water all the time, how do you concentrate the build of up fish waste so that there is enough clean water for the fish to live? I mean, in a continuous system, the fish water gets recycled and cleaned, but in your system, there will be less flow and thus, more NH4 build up. Is there any way of concentrating the NH4 build up in a fish tank so that we can pump the concentrate instead? Thx. Adrian

A: Hello Adrian, For Autopot® Aquaponics, the principles are quite different from conventional aquaponics involving re-circulating hydroponics
- we do not have to concentrate the nutrient at some point
- we draw water from the fish tank containing the dissolved fish wastes and feed directly to the plants
- our smart pump set then automatically tops up hydroponic nutrients to the plants
- the result is the same. We use the same water used by the fish to feed all the plants and the waste contained in the fish tank is an added bonus to our plants
- more often than not, we have more plants than fish so this method allows us to have enough nutrients for our plants without solely relying on the fish
with regards, Jim Fah

How would Autopot® Systems fit into an aquaponic outfit?

The Autopot aquaponic system was basically an extension of my existing Autopot system, feeding up to 1,000 plants using around 1,000 L fresh water a day on average. I just have to add an aquaculture intensive culture system to make use of the water first before feeding my plants. To make up for the nutrient deficiencies from the fish wastes, I just have to supplement only three nutrients which can be automatically dosed from theAutoPot™ Smart Pump Set - Potassium (as Potassium hydroxide), calcium (as calcium hydroxide) and Iron (chelated).
I allowed a water exchange of 5% to 10% a day, that means, I culture up to 20 times the total vol. of water used for the plants = 20,000 litre capacity. Since there is no need for the water to the plants to be returned to the aquaculture units, it is pretty straight forward in my case, without the complexities of the quality of used water affecting the fish. Since the water for the fish is always fresh and not used - unlike the recirculating systems. This should be a big advantage!

Aquaponics - Autopot® & blockages?

Q: Hi, I have just visited a commercial aquaponics set up. They have used the traditional method of recirculating the water from the fish tanks through the grow beds acting as bio filters. They also had several Autopots. They had stopped using them because they continually became blocked with the water from the fish tank. I'm wondering if this is a common problem when using them in this manner, and if so, are there ways to fix it? I would be interested in considering your Autopot methods for aquaponics otherwise. Kind Regards Ian


A: Hello Ian, Thank you for writing to us.
- if set up and used correctly, the likelihood of blockages will be extremely low.
- we have ours going on for more than 1 year now and have not experienced such problem
- we may get the occasional blockages which are not any worse than just using town water.
- the key is to have the delivery of the waste water from the fish pumped from a pressure pump with at least 10 psi working pressure, also using a pre-filter system before any solid waste is allowed to be taken up by the pump and delivered down the feed line.
- Using an in-line filter as well as a water pump lifting the water in to a filter bag for the larger solids will greatly reduce the lieklihood of blockages.

Autopot® & Worm Tea as nutrients?

Q: Hi guys, We’re building a roof top garden in Sydney’s inner city and are planning to use your auto pot system to grow a whole lot of vegetables. We’re hoping to use a liquid solution made from worms in the tank, I’ve been doing a little research and there seems to be some concern about the microbes clogging up the motor, ( no motor in your case) but also the lack of oxygen in a hyrdoponic system causing problems with sludge and the like. Do you know anything about this? Or are you familiar with using worm juice in a hydroponic system? Any answers would be gratefully received. Best wishes, Karin


A: Hi Karin, Worm tea is generally a good plant supplement, but it poses two key issues in a hydroponic system. The first is that it contains lots of suspended solids. Ultimately these solids will build up in the inside of your plumbing and valves causing blockages.This is not an insurmountable problem and can be addressed by fine filtering, more regular maintenance and a need to replace small tubing on a as needed basis. The second and more interesting problem posed by the use of worm tea is it's actual content of N-P-K and trace elements, both it's absolute analysis and its consistency over time.The advantage of a hydroponic nutrient is that they contain all the minerals and elements and trace elements required for healthy plant growth. A mix like the Autopot® High Performance Complete Plant Food provides just these minerals and elements, and no 'growth stimulators' or hormones. The other advantage is that the analysis of our nutrients is always the same, whereas the worm tea most likely varies considerably based on the diet of the worms.

Having said that, we know that hydroponic nutrients are not available in many parts of the world that desperately need growing systems such as Autopot®. We have an ongoing research program to try and find cheap and easy methods of evaluating local nutrient sources, including worm tea. Which of course brings us to yet another of Autopot's advantages - it is highly modular. Because the growing units are so flexible, it is really easy, and quite cost effective to experiment with different things, or do side by side trials. Because everything is so modular, the cost of a failed trial is low - just a couple of plants. So I would recommend that you give it a try. Do a side by side test. Take some photos as a record, and I'd love to hear the results of your experiments. Best Regards, Barry

Copycats - confused about different "Autopot® Systems"?

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Q: Hi there! Yes! I am the one that contacted you a long time ago and never did anything about the Autopot!
Could you help me clarify this? . They dont look the same models at all! Is Autopot has a new model or...??? I am a little bit confused!
Thanks, Roger


A: Hello Roger, Thanks for enlightening us. They are actually copies of the original Smart-valve Mk2, please click here to view details: Autopot® Copies
With regards, Jim Fah

Q: Hi Jim! Interesting!


"One thing is for sure, I will continue to pour money into R& D towards improvement and coming up with cheaper and better Autopot products. In fact, I already have a few ideas just waiting for funds and timing to start up. Each project can cost anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000 and about a year before it can be put into the market, that is assuming everything goes smoothly.
- quote Jim Fah"

People always think that a plastics object costs pennies to manufacture! They don't always consider another aspect of manufacturing - the "molds". Very very expensive to design and build. For sure once done, it is a money machine., but before getting there, like you said $50,000 / $100,000.00 + the time frame! I can see that the inventor mind of yours never stops to work on new ideas! Keep on working on these!
Jim, I see your invention as a serious solution to the food crisis we have and the bigger one that is coming with these petrole prices! The
Autopot system with the new giant seeds from China should be a winner. Maybe I am crazy too! I already received an answer! Really appreciated it!

A: Hello Roger, Thank you for being so understanding. Autopot® has cost me 30 years of continuous input in time, money and lots of sacrifices. Having given up a promising jobs at the age of 30, and spent more than $3.5Million Aus, and more than 70 tools made, patent fees spent, etc etc...but this is exactly what I want to do, follow my heart and be happy without regrets. On one hand I feel I should not feel too unhappy about people copying because at times I feel I am merely a caretaker of the technology which can hopefully one day benefit mankind. What was most upsetting about the Aqua valve copying was the way it was done and with no reference or appreciation to the creator of the technology. It is more like robbery and I am not surprised they will even try to hijack the legitimacy of the invention. Thanks and with best regards, Jim Fah

Nutrient Dosing Autopot® Systems & pH

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Q: Dear Jim, At this stage I have 13 x 2 pot systems and 4 x 12" systems and intend to build on this with the intention of adding a pump assisted system. I am having a huge amount of success with everything I've been growing and I am now a total Autopot convert with the exception of a flood and drain table used for lettuce - this will be replaced soon with a CapPlus table for that purpose. I am keen to instal the Autopot Dosing Unit with the venturi feeding system and wondered how the pH gets adjusted (I only have bore water and the pH is quite high at 8•1).

What is the price of the Dosing Unit with electronic dosing system compared to the venturi system? Will the electronic system provide for finer adjustments of nutrient? And what is the price of the in-line nutrient monitor please. Also, what is the best cleaning method to remove the caked on nutrient in the pots and trays? Thank you for an amazing product. Kind regards, Chris


A: Hello Chris, Thanks for the positive feedback. With Autopot® Systems, you do not have to worry about pH at all provided your incoming fresh water is near neutral. The venturi feed system does not provide perfect nutrient concentration. It fluctuates within a range of 10 units (CF). That is fine with Autopot® Systems as this will still give very good growth performance. Unlike other systems, there is quite a lot of nutrient buffering within the growing medium. So I would not be too worried about the nutrient range. If you wish to have perfect nutrient dosing, then this will involve combining an electronic doser working in conjuction with the Smart pump set (without the venturi). Alternatively, you can still have perfect CF if you have a large tank of say 1,000 L - all you need to do is to fill up with tank (normally via a built in float valve to cut off when full) and then switch off the water source and and add your nutrients to the to the required CF. From this pre-mixed tank you can now use the pressure pump to draw from your exactly measured nutrients.

Regarding the caking at the bottom of the trays and pots - we use a household bleach to soak the items for half an hour or more before rinsing it out. If your water quality is good like Melbourne water, there should not be any caking at all, If there is, I suspect your water may be quite hard which will cause some precipitation of nutrients (mainly calcium or phosphates). Regards, Jim

Nutrients for Autopot® - Single formulation vs Grow/Bloom formulation?

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Q: Hi, I have been going through your site and you state that you use your nutrient for both vegetative growth plus blooming. I didn't think this was advisable with some plants as they tend to bud too early and do not grow as well. In fact I think I saw some nutrient product at your store that was specifically for growing AND for budding.
Could you please clarify this for me, I'm confused? Regards, Dave.


A: Hello Dave, We have been growing our plants (hundreds of thousands) over 20 years, all plants as seen in our website are only on one formulation, no grow or bloom formulation, just one. So far no indication of poor performance in terms of yields or growth. Just try it out and I can assure you that you would not notice the difference. If we can make it simpler, we would. Regards, Jim

Pictures show the results of a trial of using single formulation Autopot® Nutrients versus Grow and Bloom formulations. The row on the left in Autopot® Systems with a one formulation and the right in a drip to waste system with a grow and bloom formulation. In fact, the AutoPot™ formulation came out better with everything else being treated equal.

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Orchid growing in AutoPot™ Systems & humidity.

Q: Can an orchid that originates from a high humidity environment be grown in anAutoPot™ unit in a low humidity condition?


A: The answer is yes. A good example are Slipper orchids. The specimen we tried came from the tropical mountains where the environment is always humid (around 90%). We grew them very successfully in the AutoPot™ Twin Wall Smart Pot (or Okid pots) in Melbourne indoors and the humidity was low averaging around 40%. With theAutoPot™ Systems, the watering is plant determined so the orchid is able to compensate exactly for the extra moisture it requires for its higher transpiration rate in a lower humidity environment. However, with conventional watering, it is just too difficult, in fact near impossible, to accurately provide the extra moisture required by the orchid. Hence, it is easier for conventional growers to reduce the transpiration rate of the plant by increasing the humidity of its growing environment. More on AutoPot™ Orchid Growing - click here.

Organics & AutoPot™ Growing

Q: Dear Jim Fah, What a wonderful invention, the AutoPot™. I'm working for a project for young people without work or education. And the purpose is to teach them how to grow vegetables. I'm very interested in the organic AutoPot™s. Can you tell me more about it? Thanks in advance. Kind regards, D Christiaan

A: Hello Danilo, Thank you for your email.
We can use AutoPot™ systems to grow vegetables organically and still retain the plant driven working principles whereby the plant controls its own timing regarding water (and feed) requirements,
also resulting without water losses through run off.

There is a big difference in organic methods with AutoPot™ Systems when compared to Hydroponics which conventionally means providing for all the plant's feed requirements from a nutrient using soiless growing mediums.

However, for AutoPot™ Organics most of the nutrients will have to be supplied through the growing medium and very little from the water drawn from the reservoir tank. Therefore, we need to use an organic growing medium that is packed with nutrients and must be thoroughly composted (eg cow manure must be aged 6 months or more). Additional organic nutrients (in the form of pellets or worm juice, other organic feeds available from the market) can be applied directly to the growing medium in the pots. Only a small quantity of organic nutrients (must be suitable) can be added into the tank to feed the plants. I will prefer to reserve the tank water for introducing inorganic nutrients (eg trace elements, iron, or whatever that may be lacking) to make up what is missing or low in the organic growing medium.
With Regards, Jim Fah

Potato growing in AutoPot™

Q: Jim nearly time for planting potatoes. Can you please tell me how to do it and get the best results. All else is going great. Thanks, Lyall


A: Hello Lyall, My suggestion is to put them in Hydrotray Single 12" modules. Use potting mix and use seed potatoes (cut up tubers) with 3 to 4 pieces per pot. First fill the pot 3/4 full and plant the spuds, top up with more potting mix up to 1 inch below the rim, water once from the top and place in full direct sun. The option of having a cut out pot on top of the bottom is another way but as for me lazy gardeners, it is better to have a single pot. We still can expect 3 to 4 kilos of potatoes at the end of the season. Hope this helps and would like your feedback in the future. Regards, Jim Fah

Plants under lights - problems

Q: Hi Jim, What do you reckon is going on here? The mature leaves of these two BokChoy plants are fine, but the new growth; as the photos show, is abnormal.

As the leaves get bigger the problem is less apparent (as first photo shows) other than the damage caused initially. The only other plant to show a little abnormality is the parsley which has a thin lime green/lighter rim around the outer edge of the leaves. The other plants on the table; including Tatsoi, are fine. I'll be interested to hear your opinion. Do I need to up the nitrogen solution a little perhaps? Cheers, J

Bak Choi grown on AutoPot™ Capillary tables under high-compact fluro lights which give out 4,000 ft-candles intensity. Growing medium was vermiculite in 6"-squat pots.

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A: Hello J, From the pictures, it appear that the plants are suffering from nutritional stress, mainly trace elements. I think in the absence of a chemical analysis, which is expensive and not justifiable just for your application, I would suggest to feed them with complete plant food such as AutoPot™ Nutrients mixed to the standard ratio of 5ml A and 5ml B in to one litre of water. The best way to do it is to fill the nutrient solution in to a shallow container and let the pots with the plants soak right through the vermiculite for about 5 minutes.

For future planting, I recommend soaking the vermiculite or other growing medium in the nutrient solution before planting. I believe the vermiculite is "competing" with the plants for nutrients especially when (vermiculite) is used fresh. The vermiculite surfaces can "adsorb" or ionically attract the minerals from the nutrient solution thereby reducing its availability to the plants. The soaking idea is to saturate the ionically active surfaces of the vermiculite first. The used "soaked" nutrient solution is to be dumped or use on other pot plants in soil. Please let me know if this helps. Regards, Jim Fah

My Bak Choy under the same fluro lighting set up and planted around the same time. The difference is I use perlite/vermiculite 50/50 mix as the growing medium.

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