(19)
(11)EP 3 410 840 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
13.09.2023 Bulletin 2023/37

(21)Application number: 17747950.8

(22)Date of filing:  27.01.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A01G 27/04(2006.01)
A01G 13/02(2006.01)
A01G 27/00(2006.01)
A01G 27/06(2006.01)
A01G 9/02(2018.01)
(52)Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC):
A01G 27/04; A01G 27/006; A01G 9/02; A01G 13/0281; Y02P 60/21
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2017/015228
(87)International publication number:
WO 2017/136227 (10.08.2017 Gazette  2017/32)

(54)

TOP FEEDING WICKING APPARATUS AND SYSTEM

VON OBEN ZUFÜHRENDE DOCHTVORRICHTUNG UND SYSTEM

APPAREIL ET SYSTÈME À EFFET DE MÈCHE À ALIMENTATION PAR LE HAUT


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 01.02.2016 US 201662289678 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
12.12.2018 Bulletin 2018/50

(73)Proprietor: 4D Holdings, LLC
Studio City, CA 91607 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • MARSHALL, Aaron
    Valley Village, CA 91607 (US)

(74)Representative: WP Thompson 
8th Floor 1 Mann Island
Liverpool L3 1BP
Liverpool L3 1BP (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-00/65901
US-A- 4 087 938
US-A- 5 325 627
US-A1- 2012 080 538
JP-A- H0 638 640
US-A- 4 336 666
US-A1- 2003 182 852
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS



    [0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/289,678, filed February 1, 2016.

    TECHNICAL FIELD



    [0002] The present invention relates to the field of horticultural irrigation apparatus and feeding systems, and more particularly, to a top feeding wicking apparatus and system for feeding or watering plants and the like.

    BACKGROUND



    [0003] Plants typically require feeding or watering or otherwise supplementing with liquid nutrition at least once weekly to survive. This may be accomplished by using a passive wicking system. A passive wicking system is a form of hydroponics that uses at least two or more wicks to transport nutrient solution or water from the reservoir into the growing medium and to the roots via capillary action such that plants are fed from the bottom up.

    [0004] Various self-watering, plant feeding apparatus and systems incorporating wicking technology have been developed, but such apparatus and systems are not specifically designed for simple, convenient, and economical use due to their complex construction, and are not easily adaptable to an existing plant container or medium. It would thus be desirable to have an improved automated, top feeding wicking apparatus and system for feeding or watering plants and the like, which avoids the disadvantages of the known apparatus and systems.

    [0005] Prior art document US 2012/080538 A1 discloses a plant watering device that includes a hollow rigid member which is substantially ring-shaped but has a gap between opposite closed ends of the member, the member having a lower surface with a plurality of spaced holes for dispensing water out of the hollow interior chamber in the member. A plurality of removable peg-like legs are configured to engage mounting sleeves on the lower surface of the member at one end and to be embedded in the soil or other medium surrounding the plant at the opposite end. A hose connector protrudes outwards from the ring-shaped member and can be connected to a water supply hose so that water is supplied into the hollow ring and flows through the chamber and out through the dispensing holes.

    SUMMARY



    [0006] In a first aspect, there is provided herein a top feeding wicking apparatus for dispersing liquid through a plant growing medium. The apparatus includes a geometrically shaped container of variable size having a bottom, an inner wall, and an outer wall forming a channel therearound the container for receiving liquid therethrough. The container is configured with a center opening for receiving a plant. The bottom of the container is configured with at least one hole for receiving liquid therethrough. A geometrically shaped lid of variable size having a top, an inner wall, and an outer wall forming a channel therearound from an underside of the lid has a center opening for receiving the plant and is configured to be adjoined to the container. At least one nozzle is disposed on the top of the lid for receiving liquid from a hose. A geometrically shaped base layer and wicking layer of variable size each having an inner wall and an outer wall and a center opening for receiving the plant. The center opening of the base layer and the wicking layer each have a longitudinal opening extending therefrom to the outer wall to allow placement of the base layer and the wicking layer on the plant or to allow removal of the base layer and the wicking layer from the plant. The container with lid is configured to set atop the base layer and subsequent wicking layer such that liquid is dispersed through the plant growing medium.

    [0007] In certain embodiments, the container and lid are geometrically shaped as a circle.

    [0008] In certain embodiments, the container and lid are fabricated as one piece and molded from a single sheet of material.

    [0009] In certain embodiments, the container and lid are C-shaped and include an opening for receiving a plant and removing the container and lid from the plant.

    [0010] In certain embodiments, the container and lid are fabricated from plastic, rubber, metals, alloys, and the like.

    [0011] In certain embodiments, the apparatus is fabricated from biodegradable materials.

    [0012] In certain embodiments, the nozzle is configured to be barbed for securing the hose in place, pierced barbed for piercing a larger hose, or double-sided barbed (T-shaped) for allowing liquid to be delivered to more than one apparatus.

    [0013] In certain embodiments, the container is configured with a plurality of geometrically shaped stakes of variable size extending therefrom the bottom for providing stability of the container within the plant growing medium.

    [0014] In certain embodiments, a plurality of L-shaped notches are disposed on the bottom of the container for receiving the plurality of stakes.

    [0015] In certain embodiments, the at least one hole of the bottom of the container includes raised walls on top for allowing even distribution of liquid through the at least one hole.

    [0016] In certain embodiments, the at least one hole of the bottom of the container includes walls disposed beneath the at least one hole for concentrating exiting liquid via a pathway onto or into the base layer and the wicking layer.

    [0017] In certain embodiments, the channel of the container includes at least one pathway for transporting liquid to the at least one hole of the bottom of the container.

    [0018] In certain embodiments, the container and lid are adjoined together by ultra-sonic welding, a bonding agent, or a clip-on design.

    [0019] In certain embodiments, the base layer is fabricated from an opaque material for blocking light from penetrating therethrough, controlling air flow, and for deterring pest infestation in the plant growing medium.

    [0020] In certain embodiments, the base layer is fabricated from a poly-vinyl material or a vacuum formed or thermoformed plastic material.

    [0021] In certain embodiments, the base layer and wicking layer are bonded together via a bonding agent.

    [0022] In certain embodiments, the base layer is configured with a plurality of holes for delivering liquid onto or into the wicking layer.

    [0023] In certain embodiments, the base layer is die-cut to allow the bottom of the container to be positioned directly onto the wicking layer.

    [0024] In certain embodiments, a plurality of L-shaped notches are disposed on a top surface of at least one of the base layer and the wicking layer such that the container with lid is properly aligned on one or both of the base and wicking layers.

    [0025] In certain embodiments, the wicking layer is fabricated from at least one of geo-textile cloth, cloth, foam, sponge, non-woven materials, woven materials, open-cell or closed-cell materials, and the like.

    [0026] In a second aspect, not part of the claimed invention, there is provided herein a top feeding wicking apparatus for dispersing liquid through a plant growing medium using the apparatus disclosed above without the base layer. The container with lid is configured to set directly atop the wicking layer such that liquid may be dispersed through the plant growing medium.

    [0027] In a third aspect, there is provided herein a top feeding wicking system for dispersing liquid through a plant growing medium using the apparatus disclosed above and herein. The top feeding wicking system includes an automated flow of liquid through the hose for dispersing liquid through the plant growing medium.

    [0028] Various advantages of this disclosure will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, when read in light of the accompanying drawings.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0029] 

    FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the top feeding wicking apparatus fabricated into two parts and shown separate from the base layer and the wicking layer, according to the present disclosure.

    FIG. 2 is a bottom plan view of the top feeding wicking apparatus of FIG. 1 with the two parts attached together and shown with L-shaped notches for receiving longitudinal stakes, according to the present disclosure.

    FIG. 3 is a top perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the top feeding wicking apparatus of FIG. 1 shown detached from the base layer and the wicking layer, according to the present disclosure.

    FIG. 4 is a top perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the top feeding wicking apparatus of FIG. 1 shown attached to the base layer and the wicking layer, according to the present disclosure.

    FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of an exemplary embodiment of the top feeding wicking apparatus and system, according to the present disclosure.

    FIG. 6 is a top perspective view of the top feeding wicking apparatus and system of FIG. 4 shown in use and set atop the plant growing medium, according to the present disclosure.

    FIG. 7 is an enlarged top perspective view of another exemplary embodiment of the top feeding wicking apparatus and system in which the base layer is configured with a plurality of holes, according to the present disclosure.

    FIG. 8 is an enlarged top perspective view of another exemplary embodiment of the top feeding wicking apparatus of FIG. 1 shown detached from the base layer and the wicking layer in which the base layer and the wicking layer are shown with a plurality of L-shaped notches, according to the present disclosure.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0030] This disclosure is not limited to the particular systems, methodologies or protocols described, as these may vary. The terminology used in this description is for the purpose of describing the particular versions or embodiments only, and is not intended to limit the scope.

    [0031] As used in this document, the singular forms "a," "an," and "the" include plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meanings as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art. All publications mentioned in this document are incorporated by reference. All sizes recited in this document are by way of example only, and the disclosure is not limited to structures having the specific sizes or dimensions recited below. As used herein, the term "comprising" means "including, but not limited to."

    [0032] In consideration of the figures, it is to be understood for purposes of clarity certain details of construction and/or operation are not provided in view of such details being conventional and well within the skill of the art upon disclosure of the document described herein.

    [0033] The following terms and phrases shall have, for purposes of this application, the respective meanings set forth below:
    The terms "feeding" and "watering" are used interchangeably herein and are intended to have the same meaning with respect to the treating of a plant with liquid nutrition so that the plant may grow and flourish.

    [0034] The term "hydroponics" refers to the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients, but without soil.

    [0035] The term "irrigation" refers to the application of water to soil or another medium by artificial means to foster plant growth.

    [0036] The terms "growing medium," "medium," or "media" refer to a liquid or solid in which organic structures such as plants are placed to grow.

    [0037] The term "liquid" refers to any form of liquid nutrition for a plant, including water and the like.

    [0038] The term "Rockwool" refers to the inorganic mineral based horticultural grade Rockwool primarily sold as a hydroponic substrate in the horticultural industry.

    [0039] The phrase "substrate growing system" is a hydroponic system in which the root zone is physically supported by media and the plants are fed by applying nutrient solution to the media.

    [0040] The terms "top feeding wicking apparatus" and "apparatus" are used interchangeably herein.

    [0041] The top feeding wicking apparatus of the present disclosure pertains to an automated top feeding wicking apparatus and system that provides for an even and thorough distribution of water or other liquid nutrition onto a plant; prevents algae, mold, and weeds from growing in the plant growing medium by covering the medium in its entirety; deters pest infestations; retains moisture within the plant growing medium; promotes water conservation; low cost to manufacture; fabricated from inexpensive materials; provides a compact design for packing and shipping; durable; easy to assemble; and disposable or reusable, among other desirable features as described herein.

    [0042] It is contemplated by the present disclosure that the top feeding wicking apparatus and system may be used with any suitable plant growing medium (e.g., Rockwool, soil, and the like) in a substrate growing system.

    [0043] Referring now to FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the top feeding wicking apparatus 10 fabricated into two parts, i.e., container 12 and lid 14, and shown separate from the base layer 16 and the wicking layer 18, according to the present disclosure. The apparatus 10 includes a geometrically shaped container 12 of variable size having a bottom 20, an inner wall 22 and an outer wall 24 forming a channel 26 therearound the container for receiving liquid (not shown) therethrough. The bottom 20 of the container 12 is configured with at least one hole 30 for receiving liquid therethrough. A geometrically shaped lid 14 of variable size having a top 32, an inner wall 34 and an outer wall 36 forming a channel 38 therearound from an underside 40 of the lid is configured to be adjoined to the container 12. At least one nozzle 42 is disposed on the top 32 of the lid 14 for receiving liquid from a hose 41 (FIG. 6). The container 12 and lid 14 are configured with a center opening 28 for receiving a plant 43 (FIG. 6).

    [0044] The apparatus 10 further includes a geometrically shaped base layer 16 and wicking layer 18 (FIG. 3) of variable size each having an inner wall 44, 46 and an outer wall 48, 50 are configured with a center opening 52, 54 for receiving the plant 43 (FIG. 6). The center opening 52, 54 of the base layer 16 and the wicking layer 18 each have a longitudinal opening 56, 58 extending therefrom to the outer wall 48, 50 to allow placement of the base layer 16 and the wicking layer 18 on the plant 43 or to allow removal of the base layer 16 and the wicking layer 18 from the plant 43. The container 12 with lid 14 is configured to set atop the base layer 16 and wicking layer 18 such that liquid may be dispersed through the plant growing medium 45 (FIG. 6).

    [0045] In one embodiment, the container 12 and lid 14 are geometrically shaped as a circle as shown in FIGS. 1-5. It should be understood that the container 12 and lid 14 can be fabricated of any suitable geometric shape and size.

    [0046] In another embodiment, the container 12 and lid 14 are fabricated as one piece and molded from a single sheet of material.

    [0047] In other embodiments, the container 12 and lid 14 are fabricated from plastic, rubber, metals, alloys, and any other suitable sturdy material capable of retaining liquids (e.g., water).

    [0048] In accordance with the present disclosure, the apparatus 10 can be fabricated to scale any size or shape plant growing medium. For example, the apparatus 10 can be fabricated to scale plant growing medium having the following dimensions: 101.6 mm (4 inches) x 101.6 mm (4 inches), 152.4 mm (6 inches) x 152.4 mm (6 inches), 203.2 mm (8 inches) x 203.2 mm (8 inches), and 228.6 mm (9 inches) x 304.8 mm (12 inches). It should be understood that the amount of volume the container 12 can hold will be according to scale such that a plant growing in a 101.6 mm (4 inches) x 101.6 mm (4 inches) x 101.6 mm (4 inches) Rockwool cube does not require the same amount of liquid nutrition as a plant in a 18.9 litre (five gallon) pot.

    [0049] In a further embodiment, the apparatus 10 is configured to be disposable after one or more uses or reusable after several prior uses.

    [0050] In another embodiment, the apparatus 10 is fabricated from biodegradable materials, such as BioSphere® plastic, synthetic biodegradable polymers, and any other suitable sturdy biodegradable material capable of retaining liquids (e.g., water).

    [0051] In other embodiments, the nozzle 42 is configured to be barbed (FIG. 1) for receiving and securing the hose in place, pierced barbed (not shown) for piercing a larger hose, or double-sided barbed (not shown), i.e., T-shaped, for allowing liquid to be delivered to more than one apparatus 10. It should be understood that more than one nozzle 42 can be disposed on top 32 of the lid 14 for receiving liquid from the hose 41. The apparatus 10 can have one or more hoses 41 connected to each individual plant thereby allowing the user to regulate the uptake of liquids for each plant.

    [0052] In one embodiment, the container 12 and lid 14 are C-shaped (FIG. 1) and include an opening 60 for receiving a plant 43 and removing the container 12 and lid 14 from the plant 43. It should be understood that the container 12 and lid 14 can be a closed circle without opening 60 to enable an even distribution of liquid therethrough the channel 26 of the container 12.

    [0053] In accordance with the present disclosure, the at least one hole 30 of the bottom 20 of the container 12 includes raised walls 62 on top for allowing even distribution of liquid through the at least one hole 30. In other embodiments, the at least one hole 30 of the bottom 20 of the container 12 includes walls 63 disposed beneath the at least one hole 30 for concentrating exiting liquid via a pathway 64 onto or into the base layer 16 and the wicking layer 18. In other embodiments, the channel 26 of the container 12 includes at least one pathway 64 for transporting liquid to the at least one hole 30 of the bottom 20 of the container. It should be understood that there can be multiple pathways that are different from each other and allow for the efficient delivery of liquid to the at least one hole 30 of the bottom 20 of the container 12.

    [0054] In a further embodiment, the container 12 and lid 14 are adjoined together by ultra-sonic welding, a bonding agent, or a clip-on design.

    [0055] Referring now to FIG. 2 is a bottom plan view of the top feeding wicking apparatus 10 of FIG. 1 shown with the two parts, i.e., container 12 and lid 14, attached together, according to the present disclosure. In one embodiment, the container 12 is configured with a plurality of geometrically shaped stakes 66 (FIG. 1) of variable size extending therefrom the bottom 20 for providing stability of the container 12 within the plant growing medium 45 (FIG. 6). In another embodiment, a plurality of L-shaped notches 68 is disposed on the bottom 20 of the container 12 for receiving the plurality of stakes 66.

    [0056] FIG. 3 is a top perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the top feeding wicking apparatus 10 of FIG. 1 shown detached from the base layer 16 and the wicking layer 18, according to the present disclosure. In one embodiment, the base layer 16 is fabricated of an opaque material for blocking light from penetrating therethrough, controlling air flow, and for deterring pest infestation in the plant growing medium. By blocking light to the plant growing medium, the apparatus 10 prevents the growth of algae, mold, and weeds in the plant growing medium. In other embodiments, the base layer 16 is fabricated of a poly-vinyl material or a vacuum formed or thermoformed plastic material. It should be understood that the base layer 16 can be fabricated of any suitable geometric shape and size.

    [0057] In another embodiment, the base layer 16 and wicking layer 18 are bonded together via a bonding agent. It should be understood that the base layer 16 can be disposed on top of the wicking layer 18 without any bonding of the two layers.

    [0058] In one embodiment, the wicking layer 18 is fabricated of at least one of a geo-textile cloth, cloth, foam, sponge, non-woven materials, woven materials, open-cell or closed-cell materials, and the like. The wicking layer materials allow liquid to travel throughout and provide efficient delivery to the entirety of the wicking layer 18 such that liquid or nutrients are ultimately delivered to the top of the plant growing medium. It should be understood that the wicking layer 18 may be fabricated of any suitable geometric shape and size.

    [0059] FIG. 4 is a top perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the top feeding wicking apparatus 10 of FIG. 1 shown attached to the base layer 16 and the wicking layer 18, according to the present disclosure. In one embodiment, the base layer 16 is die-cut to allow the bottom 20 of the container 12 to be positioned directly onto the wicking layer 18 such that the base layer covers the wicking layer 18 only from the outside diameter of the container 12 to the outer wall 48 perimeter of the base layer 16 as shown in FIG. 4.

    [0060] In accordance with the present disclosure, there is also provided herein a top feeding wicking apparatus 10 for dispersing liquid through a plant growing medium using the apparatus 10 disclosed above without the base layer 16. In this embodiment, the container 12 with lid 14 is configured to set directly atop the wicking layer 18 such that liquid may be dispersed through the plant growing medium 45.

    [0061] In accordance with the present disclosure, there is further provided herein a top feeding wicking system 100 for dispersing liquid through a plant growing medium using the apparatus 10 disclosed above. It should be understood that the apparatus 10 can receive water manually poured in by the user (without the lid 14 with nozzle 42 feature) or be used in conjunction with an automated top feeding wicking system 100 with a hose 41 feature such that an automated flow of liquid is directed through the hose 41 for dispersing liquid through the plant growing medium. FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of an exemplary embodiment of the top feeding wicking apparatus 10 and system 100 (shown without the hose set up and placement in the plant growing medium), according to the present disclosure.

    [0062] FIG. 6 is a top perspective view of the top feeding wicking apparatus 10 and system 100 of FIG. 4 shown in use and set atop the plant growing medium 45, according to the present disclosure.

    [0063] FIG. 7 is an enlarged top perspective view of another exemplary embodiment of the top feeding wicking apparatus 10 and system 100 in which the base layer 16 is configured with a plurality of holes 17 for delivering liquid onto or into the wicking layer 18.

    [0064] FIG. 8 is an enlarged top perspective view of another exemplary embodiment of the top feeding wicking apparatus 10 of FIG. 1 shown detached from the base layer 16 and the wicking layer 18. A plurality of L-shaped notches 69 are disposed on a top surface 70, 72 of the base layer 16 and/or wicking layer 18 such that the container 12 with lid 14 is properly aligned on one or both of the base and the wicking layers 16, 18.

    [0065] Several of the features and functions disclosed above may be combined into different systems or applications, or combinations of systems and applications. Various presently unforeseen or unanticipated alternatives, modifications, variations or improvements therein may be subsequently made by those skilled in the art, each of which are also intended to be encompassed by the following claims.


    Claims

    1. A top feeding wicking apparatus (10) for dispersing liquid through a plant growing medium (45), comprising:

    a geometrically shaped container (12) of variable size having a bottom (20), an inner wall (22), and an outer wall (24) forming a channel (26) therearound the container (12) for receiving liquid therethrough, the container (12) having a center opening (28) for receiving a plant and the bottom (20) of the container (12) having at least one hole (30) for receiving liquid therethrough;

    a geometrically shaped lid (14) of variable size having a top, an inner wall (34), and an outer wall (36) forming a channel therearound from an underside of the lid (14), the lid (14) having a center opening for receiving the plant and configured to be adjoined to the container (12), wherein at least one nozzle (42) is disposed on the top of the lid (14) for receiving liquid from a hose; and

    a geometrically shaped base layer (16) and wicking layer (18) of variable size each having an inner wall (44, 46) and an outer wall (48, 50) and a center opening (52, 54) for receiving the plant, the center opening (52, 54) of the base layer (16) and the wicking layer (18) each having a longitudinal opening (56, 58) extending therefrom to the outer wall (48, 50) to allow placement of the base layer (16) and the wicking layer (18) on the plant or to allow removal of the base layer (16) and the wicking layer (18) from the plant;

    wherein the container (12) with lid (14) is configured to set atop the base layer (16) and the wicking layer (18) such that liquid is dispersed through the plant growing medium (45).


     
    2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the container (12) and lid (14) are geometrically shaped as a circle, or
    wherein the container (12) and lid (14) are fabricated as one piece and molded from a single sheet of material.
     
    3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the container (12) and lid (14) are C-shaped and include an opening for receiving a plant and removing the container (12) and lid (14) from the plant.
     
    4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the container (12) and lid (14) are fabricated from at least one of plastic, rubber, metals, and alloys.
     
    5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the apparatus is fabricated from biodegradable materials.
     
    6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the nozzle (42) is configured to be barbed for securing the hose in place, pierced barbed for piercing a larger hose, or double- sided barbed (T-shaped) for allowing liquid to be delivered to more than one apparatus.
     
    7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the container (12) is configured with a plurality of geometrically shaped stakes (66) of variable size extending therefrom the bottom of the container (12) for providing stability of the container (12) within the plant growing medium, and, optionally,
    wherein a plurality of L-shaped notches (89) are disposed on the bottom of the container (12) for receiving the plurality of stakes (66).
     
    8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one hole (30) of the bottom of the container (12) includes raised walls (63) on top for allowing even distribution of liquid through the at least one hole (30), or
    wherein the at least one hole (30) of the bottom of the container (12) includes walls (63) disposed beneath the at least one hole (30) for concentrating exiting liquid via a pathway onto or into the base layer (16) and the wicking layer (18).
     
    9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the channel (26) of the container (12) includes at least one pathway for transporting liquid to the at least one hole (30) of the bottom of the container (12) or,
    wherein the container (12) and lid (14) are adjoined together by ultra-sonic welding, a bonding agent, or a clip-on design.
     
    10. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the base layer (16) is fabricated from an opaque material for blocking light from penetrating therethrough, controlling air flow, and for deterring pest infestation in the plant growing medium, or

    wherein the base layer (16) is fabricated from a poly-vinyl material or a vacuum formed or thermo formed plastic material, or

    wherein the base layer (16) and wicking layer are bonded together via a bonding agent.


     
    11. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the base layer (16) is configured with a plurality of holes (17) for delivering liquid onto or into the wicking layer (18), or
    wherein the base layer (16) is die-cut to allow the bottom of the container (12) to be positioned directly onto the wicking layer (18).
     
    12. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein a plurality of L-shaped notches (89) are disposed on a top surface of at least one of the base layer (16) and the wicking layer (18) such that the container (12) with lid (14) is properly aligned on one or both of the base (16) and wicking layers (18).
     
    13. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the wicking layer (18) is fabricated from at least one of geo-textile cloth, cloth, foam, sponge, non-woven materials, woven materials, open-cell and closed-cell materials.
     
    14. A top feeding wicking system for dispersing liquid through a plant growing medium (45), comprising:

    a top feeding wicking apparatus (10), according to claim 1;

    wherein an automated flow of liquid through the hose disperses liquid through the plant growing medium (45).


     


    Ansprüche

    1. Von oben zuführende Dochtvorrichtung (10) zum Verteilen von Flüssigkeit durch ein Pflanzennährmedium (45), umfassend:

    einen geometrisch gestalteten Behälter (12) unterschiedlicher Größe mit einem Boden (20), einer Innenwand (22) und einer Außenwand (24), die eine Rinne (26) um den Behälter (12) zum Aufnehmen von Flüssigkeit dadurch hindurch bilden, wobei der Behälter (12) eine mittige Öffnung (28) zum Aufnehmen einer Pflanze aufweist und der Boden (20) des Behälters (12) mindestens ein Loch (30) zum Aufnehmen von Flüssigkeit dadurch hindurch aufweist;

    einen geometrisch gestalteten Deckel (14) unterschiedlicher Größe mit einer Oberseite, einer Innenwand (34) und einer Außenwand (36), die eine Rinne darum von einer Unterseite des Deckels (14) bilden, wobei der Deckel (14) eine mittige Öffnung zum Aufnehmen der Pflanze aufweist und dazu konfiguriert ist, mit dem Behälter (12) verbunden zu werden, wobei mindestens ein Stutzen (42) auf der Oberseite des Deckels (14) angeordnet ist, um Flüssigkeit von einem Schlauch aufzunehmen; und

    eine geometrisch gestaltete Basisschicht (16) und eine geometrisch gestaltete Dochtschicht (18) unterschiedlicher Größe, die jeweils eine Innenwand (44, 46) und eine Außenwand (48, 50) und eine mittige Öffnung (52, 54) zum Aufnehmen der Pflanze aufweisen, wobei die mittige Öffnung (52, 54) der Basisschicht (16) und der Dochtschicht (18) jeweils eine längslaufende Öffnung (56, 58) aufweisen, die sich davon zu der Außenwand (48, 50) erstreckt, um das Platzieren der Basisschicht (16) und der Dochtschicht (18) auf der Pflanze zu ermöglichen oder das Entfernen der Basisschicht (16) und der Dochtschicht (18) von der Pflanze zu ermöglichen;

    wobei der Behälter (12) mit dem Deckel (14) dazu konfiguriert ist, auf der Basisschicht (16) und der Dochtschicht (18) zu sitzen, sodass Flüssigkeit durch das Pflanzennährmedium (45) verteilt wird.


     
    2. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Behälter (12) und der Deckel (14) geometrisch als Kreis gestaltet sind oder
    wobei der Behälter (12) und der Deckel (14) als ein Stück hergestellt sind und aus einer einzigen dünnen Materialplatte geformt sind.
     
    3. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Behälter (12) und der Deckel (14) C-förmig sind und eine Öffnung zum Aufnehmen einer Pflanze und zum Entfernen des Behälters (12) und des Deckels (14) von der Pflanze umfassen.
     
    4. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Behälter (12) und der Deckel (14) aus mindestens einem von Kunststoff, Kautschuk, Metallen und Legierungen hergestellt sind.
     
    5. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Vorrichtung aus biologisch abbaubaren Materialien hergestellt ist.
     
    6. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Stutzen (42) dazu konfiguriert ist, mit Widerhaken versehen zu sein, um den Schlauch in Position zu fixieren, mit stechenden Widerhaken versehen ist, um einen größeren Schlauch zu durchstechen oder doppelseitig mit Widerhaken versehen (T-förmig) ist, um zu ermöglichen, dass Flüssigkeit zu mehr als einer Vorrichtung zugeführt wird.
     
    7. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Behälter (12) mit einer Vielzahl von geometrisch gestalteten Dornen (66) unterschiedlicher Größe konfiguriert ist, die sich von dem Boden des Behälters (12) erstrecken, um Stabilität des Behälters (12) in dem Pflanzennährmedium bereitzustellen, und wobei optional
    eine Vielzahl von L-förmigen Einschnitten (89) auf dem Boden des Behälters (12) angeordnet sind, um die Vielzahl von Dornen (66) aufzunehmen.
     
    8. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei das mindestens eine Loch (30) des Bodens des Behälters (12) oben erhöhte Wände (63) umfasst, um die gleichmäßige Verteilung von Flüssigkeit durch das mindestens eine Loch (30) zu ermöglichen, oder
    wobei das mindestens eine Loch (30) des Bodens des Behälters (12) unter dem mindestens einen Loch (30) angeordnete Wände (63) umfasst, um austretende Flüssigkeit über einen Pfad auf die oder in die Basisschicht (16) und die Dochtschicht (18) zu konzentrieren.
     
    9. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Rinne (26) des Behälters (12) mindestens einen Pfad zum Transportieren von Flüssigkeit zu dem mindestens einen Loch (30) des Bodens des Behälters (12) umfasst oder
    wobei der Behälter (12) und der Deckel (14) durch Ultraschallschweißen, ein Bindemittel oder eine Schnappkonstruktion miteinander verbunden sind.
     
    10. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Basisschicht (16) aus einem opaken Material hergestellt ist, um Licht am Hindurchdringen zu blockieren, die Luftströmung zu regeln und um Schädlingsbefall in dem Pflanzennährmedium abzuhalten, oder

    wobei die Basisschicht (16) aus einem Polyvinylmaterial oder einem vakuumgeformten oder thermogeformten Kunststoff hergestellt ist oder

    wobei die Basisschicht (16) und die Dochtschicht mittels eines Bindemittels aneinandergefügt sind.


     
    11. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Basisschicht (16) mit einer Vielzahl von Löchern (17) konfiguriert ist, um Flüssigkeit auf oder in die Dochtschicht (18) zu liefern, oder
    wobei die Basisschicht (16) gestanzt ist, um zu ermöglichen, dass der Boden des Behälters (12) direkt auf der Dochtschicht (18) positioniert wird.
     
    12. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei eine Vielzahl von L-förmigen Einschnitten (89) auf einer oberen Oberfläche der Basisschicht (16) und/oder der Dochtschicht (18) angeordnet sind, sodass der Behälter (12) mit dem Deckel (14) korrekt auf der Basis (16) und/oder der Dochtschicht (18) ausgerichtet wird.
     
    13. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Dochtschicht (18) aus mindestens einem von Geotextilstoff, Textilstoff, Schaumstoff, Schwamm, Vliesstoffen, gewebten Stoffen, offenzelligen und geschlossenzelligen Materialien hergestellt ist.
     
    14. Von oben zuführendes Dochtsystem zum Verteilen von Flüssigkeit durch ein Pflanzennährmedium (45), umfassend:
    eine von oben zuführende Dochtvorrichtung (10) nach Anspruch 1, wobei ein automatisierter Strom von Flüssigkeit durch den Schlauch Flüssigkeit durch das Pflanzennährmedium (45) verteilt.
     


    Revendications

    1. Appareil de méchage d'alimentation par le dessus (10) pour disperser un liquide à travers un milieu de croissance végétale (45), comprenant :

    un contenant de forme géométrique (12) de taille variable ayant une partie inférieure (20), une paroi interne (22), et une paroi externe (24) formant un canal (26) autour du contenant (12) pour recevoir un liquide à travers celui-ci, le contenant (12) ayant une ouverture centrale (28) pour recevoir une plante et la partie inférieure (20) du contenant (12) ayant au moins un trou (30) pour recevoir un liquide à travers celui-ci ;

    un couvercle de forme géométrique (14) de taille variable ayant une partie supérieure, une paroi interne (34), et une paroi externe (36) formant un canal autour de celui-ci depuis un côté inférieur du couvercle (14), le couvercle (14) ayant une ouverture centrale pour recevoir la plante et étant configuré pour être accolé au contenant (12), dans lequel au moins une buse (42) est disposée sur la partie supérieure du couvercle (14) pour recevoir un liquide d'un tuyau ; et

    une couche de base de forme géométrique (16) et une couche de méchage (18) de taille variable ayant chacune une paroi interne (44, 46) et une paroi externe (48, 50) et une ouverture centrale (52, 54) pour recevoir la plante, l'ouverture centrale (52, 54) de la couche de base (16) et de la couche de méchage (18) ayant chacune une ouverture longitudinale (56, 58) s'étendant depuis celle-ci vers la paroi externe (48, 50) pour permettre la mise en place de la couche de base (16) et de la couche de méchage (18) sur la plante ou pour permettre le retrait de la couche de base (16) et de la couche de méchage (18) de la plante ;

    dans lequel le contenant (12) avec le couvercle (14) est configuré pour être posé au-dessus de la couche de base (16) et de la couche de méchage (18) de sorte que le liquide est dispersé à travers le milieu de croissance végétale (45).


     
    2. Appareil selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le contenant (12) et le couvercle (14) sont de forme géométrique circulaire, ou
    dans lequel le contenant (12) et le couvercle (14) sont fabriqués d'un seul tenant et moulés à partir d'une feuille unique de matériau.
     
    3. Appareil selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le contenant (12) et le couvercle (14) sont en forme de C et incluent une ouverture pour recevoir une plante et retirer le contenant (12) et le couvercle (14) de la plante.
     
    4. Appareil selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le contenant (12) et le couvercle (14) sont fabriqués à partir d'un matériau parmi une matière plastique, un caoutchouc, des métaux, et des alliages.
     
    5. Appareil selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'appareil est fabriqué à partir de matériaux biodégradables.
     
    6. Appareil selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la buse (42) est configurée pour être barbelée pour fixer le tuyau en place, barbelée percée pour percer un tuyau plus grand, ou barbelée sur deux côtés (en forme de T) pour permettre à un liquide d'être délivré vers plus d'un appareil.
     
    7. Appareil selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le contenant (12) est configuré avec une pluralité de piquets de forme géométrique (66) de taille variable s'étendant depuis la partie inférieure du contenant (12) pour fournir une stabilité au contenant (12) au sein du milieu de croissance végétale, et, facultativement,
    dans lequel une pluralité d'encoches en forme de L (89) sont disposées sur la partie inférieure du contenant (12) pour recevoir la pluralité de piquets (66).
     
    8. Appareil selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'au moins un trou (30) de la partie inférieure du contenant (12) inclut des parois dressées (63) sur le dessus pour permettre une distribution homogène du liquide à travers l'au moins un trou (30), ou
    dans lequel l'au moins un trou (30) de la partie inférieure du contenant (12) inclut des parois (63) disposées sous l'au moins un trou (30) pour concentrer le liquide sortant par une voie de passage sur ou dans la couche de base (16) et la couche de méchage (18).
     
    9. Appareil selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le canal (26) du contenant (12) inclut au moins une voie de passage pour transporter un liquide vers l'au moins un trou (30) de la partie inférieure du contenant (12) ou,
    dans lequel le contenant (12) et le couvercle (14) sont accolés ensemble par soudage par ultrasons, un agent de liaison, ou un modèle de clip.
     
    10. Appareil selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la couche de base (16) est fabriquée à partir d'un matériau opaque pour empêcher la lumière de pénétrer à travers celle-ci, contrôler l'écoulement d'air, et prévenir l'infestation par des nuisibles dans le milieu de croissance végétale, ou

    dans lequel la couche de base (16) est fabriquée à partir d'un matériau de polyvinyle ou d'une matière plastique formée sous vide ou thermoformée, ou

    dans lequel la couche de base (16) et la couche de méchage sont liées ensemble au moyen d'un agent de liaison.


     
    11. Appareil selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la couche de base (16) est configurée avec une pluralité de trous (17) pour délivrer un liquide sur ou dans la couche de méchage (18), ou
    dans lequel la couche de base (16) est découpée à la forme pour permettre que la partie inférieure du contenant (12) soit positionnée directement sur la couche de méchage (18).
     
    12. Appareil selon la revendication 1, dans lequel une pluralité d'encoches en forme de L (89) sont disposées sur une surface supérieure d'au moins l'une de la couche de base (16) et de la couche de méchage (18) de sorte que le contenant (12) avec le couvercle (14) est aligné correctement sur l'une des couches de base (16) et de méchage (18), ou les deux.
     
    13. Appareil selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la couche de méchage (18) est fabriquée à partir d'au moins un matériau parmi un tissu géotextile, un tissu, une mousse, une éponge, des matériaux non tissés, des matériaux tissés, des matériaux à cellules ouvertes et à cellules fermées.
     
    14. Système de méchage d'alimentation par le dessus pour disperser un liquide à travers un milieu de croissance végétale (45), comprenant :
    un appareil de méchage d'alimentation par le dessus (10), selon la revendication 1 dans lequel un écoulement de liquide automatisé à travers le tuyau disperse un liquide à travers le milieu de culture végétale (45).
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description