By Azman Zakaria
Photo by Noor Azreen Awang
SERDANG, Jan 12: “Agriculture does not necessarily take shape in farms but it can also be done at home.”
Sticking to this concept as a solution to resolving the problem of flat or apartment dwellers not being able to do gardening, a team of Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) researchers invented a ‘dekoponix rack’ and a ‘home deco’ that will enable high-rise building residents to plant vegetables and other greens at home.
Not only does these two technologies do not require soil, they also need just a small space to create that atmosphere of greenery within a house, thus bringing freshness of the air into their abode.
While allowing flat or apartment residents to just pick their salads of choice as a side dish right before their eyes, ‘dekoponix rack’ also serves as interior decorations where they can be decorative ‘dividers’ between the dining room and kitchen.
These innovations were developed in November, 2014, by a team of researchers, led by Prof. Dr. Khairul Aidil Azlin Abd Rahman from the Department of Industrial Design, Faculty of Design and Architecture, UPM. The innovative prototype models were ready by the end of last year.
Prof. Dr. Khairul Aidil Azlin said ‘dekoponix rack’ will hit the market soon at a price of between RM700 and RM800 per set, complete with starter kits, including fertilizers, seeds, pumps, cup and sponge.
He said as the method used is hydroponic, the plants did not require intensive care but will produce clean and organic greens. Among the vegetables that can be grown are kailan (Chinese broccoli), lettuce, spinach, bayam merah and pegaga (centella Asiatica).
He added that the technology adopted a modular system that is easy to install and dismantle within five minutes.
"With an empty weight of about 2.5kg, it is easy to carry for installation while its 1.5-metre high four-level rack is suitable for a house. The number of racks can be added on, depending on the customers,” he said.
He said the product was easy to maintain and the water cycle only needed to be added once in two weeks.
"It uses a system of 'deep flow’, a hydroponic technique where the water is constantly spinning and the roots of the plants will submerge in the water that flows in the rack," he said.
Dr. Khairul Aidil Azlin said among researchers and students involved in the project were Dr. Mohd Shahrizal Dolah, Mohd Hafiz Talib (now Director of Dekoponix Sdn Bhd) and Mohd Zulkarnain Rusli.
Bigger than the size of a tissue box, it can be placed on a table in the office as a decoration for that refreshing atmosphere or given away as a souvenir. Depending on the number of orders, it is priced at RM180 per unit.
For enquiries, send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org – UPM
Sekolah Pengajian Siswazah
Universiti Putra Malaysia
43400 UPM Serdang
Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia