Autopot® Rooftop Wonderland
The idea of growing plants on rooftops is not new but with the Autopot® Technology, unlike most rooftop projects, we go beyond growing conventional hardy ornamental plants. We have created a highly productive food wonderland on top of the IRIS building producing an assortment of fruits and vegetables.
Photo: Growing Pumpkins on Rooftop
We have intergrated fish culture as part of the food production facility - a truly complete Urban Aquaponic Farm in the middle of Kuala Lumpur. In six months, the rooftop, once bare is now completely filled with hundreds of bearing tomato plants, hundreds of melon plants with top quality fruits without blemishes, cucumber plants bearing heavily, miracle fruit trees, rice plants, hundreds of flowering plants (petunia, begonia, orchids etc), 10,000 high value table fish (Jade Perch, Kelah Merah & Hijau, Patin, Tilapia, Guppies as fish feed) cultured in large tanks (total capacity 200,000 litres).
What is even more amazing about this rooftop Autopot® R&D Project is that water is being used many times over. The high value fish gets the first use of the water, next is lower value fish (eg. Tilapia) followed by the feeder fish (Guppies, mollies etc) and sandworms before finally being fed to the plants. Due to the space constraint on the rooftop for growing plants, we can only minimize the wastage of water. Otherwise, we should be able to fully utilise all the water discharged from the fish culture tanks without any wastage.
Photo: Iris Building - Kuala Lumpur
Above; The 4-storey IRIS building is located 20 minutes south of Kuala Lumpur and is very similar to most modern corporate buildings. It has a very extensive flat roof with a floor area of about 6,000sq.m. The rooftop was designed to take on another storey. For this reason, it is engineered to take on such heavy loads like the fish tanks.
Malaysian weather is mostly cloudy and typically tropical. Always hot and humid (averaging 90%) with frequent rainfalls. The average temperature is 25 to 32deg.C. Frequent rainfalls characterised by heavy downpours can happen several days in a stretch mostly during the late afternoons. Average annual rainfall is 300cm. Day length variation is minimal ie.12 hours daylight with 12 hours darkness. No strong winds.
Weather conditions on the rooftop is very different, it is pretty harsh. It is much hotter inside the "greenhouse" (functionally a rain shelter) and 45deg.C is the norm during the hottest part of the day from 12noon to 2pm. Slightly windier and hence better air movement. Otherwise, rooftop can also be classfied as a "desert":-
- no rain (under rain shelter)
- very hot (almost daily max. temp. >40deg.C)
- no soil (concrete floor)
- limited water supply (from taps)
- yet highly productive (fish, vegies, fruits)
The major difference between the rooftop and a desert is the high humidity which may not necessary be beneficial.
In short, the IRIS rooftop is a very stressful environment to work in during the day time which is not any friendlier for the plants and fish as well.
Growing medium: Perlite (main reason it is light)
In the tropics in Malaysia, end of year tropical storms occurs almost every afternoon, yet the plants stood up very well despite the downpours (causing nutrient dilution) and disease pressure. Some are under cover and others in the open subject to the elements of weather. No adjustments for location needed - just the same growing unit and supply line.
You can say the situation is too wet for outdoors BUT the plants still did extremely well. The key is to prune regularly to maintain blooms.
Below: Plants in planter boxes surrounding the building are being gravity fed and watered from the fish water above.
Photo: Ruellia in Autopot® Paddy Trays
Photo: Periwinkle grown in Autopot® Square pots on top of IRIS building rooftop
Autopot® Rooftop Setup
Before /After: Asystasia in Autopot® Window boxes