20 years of Innovation

For 20 years, Autogrow Systems Ltd, a New Zealand based electronics design and manufacturing company, has been providing reliable and economical automation solutions for greenhouses and hydroponic growers around the world.

The Autogrow story began when founder, Jeff Broad, formed an interest in hydroponics during the late 1980s while a Senior Lecturer at a leading New Zealand Polytechnic. As a keen gardener and technologist, he was intrigued by the concept of growing plants without soil. Within a short time his back garden was traversed with pipes and troughs with lettuce and herbs growing in abundance.

At that time Jeff was teaching two evening classes per week and only getting home late in the evening. Noticing that the greedy tomatoes had depleted the nutrients in the mix tank, he would have to spend time mixing up a new batch of nutrients, adding some to the tank, testing the EC, adding some more and so on. Then the pH of the tank water would need to be adjusted and all Jeff wanted was to get inside, and go to bed.

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention and so it wasn’t long before Jeff set to work to make an automatic, on-demand dosing system; and then a fertigation system for the tomatoes. It soon became apparent that there could be a commercial demand for such simple, low-cost dosers and so Autogrow Systems was born.

By the mid-90s Autogrow was too big to be a home-based business and moved into a new factory in the Albany industrial area. A collaboration with Harford Greenhouses led to the development of the ECOS, or Environment Control Operating System, a climate, dosing and irrigation controller with the ability to interface to a PC where settings could be easily configured.