It feels like a lifetime ago. We set out on our journey to work out how to control wind-borne pollen, reliably, over areas of multiple square meters. Customers were asking us for this to maintain genetic purity when yield testing and bulking up varieties of wind pollinated crops, or when producing hybrid seed on larger-than-single-plant scale.
We set out with seemingly mutually-incompatible goals. The tent must be strong but light weight. It must pack down small for storage yet be easy to assemble when needed. It must use inherently fragile fabrics for pollen proofness and plant health, but be capable of withstanding strong winds.
Like all product development processes, there have been plenty of failures along the way. Prototypes were storm damaged, or inadequately anchored, or devilishly difficult to assemble, or too inefficient to produce… but the team of designers and engineers learnt from each failure and tried again. Out of all those challenges, arises the Maxi tent!
The most exciting things we’re most excited about is its flexibility. The design is modular, so units of 1.5m x 3m cubes (of 1.5m or 2m tall) can be joined together to make larger structures; 1.5m x 6m, 3m x 3m or bigger. The panels are also interchangeable, so not only can the same framework can be used with different panels to control insect or wind borne pollen, but also the cost of replacing a panel in the event of any damage is minimal.
While our prototypes stood up to 100kph winds in Storm Dennis this winter, we need to learn from trials on multiple crops in multiple geographies assembled by multiple teams. So we’re currently undertaking commercial trials with a number of customers in the US, UK, Canada and France.
So watch this space … they’re coming soon to a field near you!