Commercial greenhouses are using the IoT and automation control systems to maximize yield
Indoor farming on a commercial scale is now an essential part of the food chain. These endeavors are more than just large greenhouses; they are carefully controlled environments with conditions optimized for getting the highest possible yield from the crops planted.
Creating and maintaining the ideal indoor climate is complex. It involves lighting and heating, which will be provided by a combination of natural and artificial sources. In addition to creating the right environment, the farmer needs to provide the right resources. This includes water, or more accurately, irrigation, which in turn leads to controlling humidity. Carbon dioxide is another resource that needs to be controlled to promote optimal growing conditions.
It isn’t surprising to learn that growers are using technology to monitor and control these elements. With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is now possible to manage commercial greenhouses over the internet. This can deliver significant benefits.
Why automation systems for commercial greenhouses make good sense
There are several good reasons for employing the latest technologies in a commercial growing environment. These include:
- Environmental control: Crops like a stable environment. Fluctuations in temperature or humidity can disrupt the growth cycle and reduce crop yield. Using a remotely accessible automation system, any changes in the environment can be detected and dealt with quickly.
- Greater control over irrigation: Plants need water, but they need it at the right time and in the right quantity. Sensors can be used to measure the amount of moisture in soil or the amount of growth fluid in hydroponic systems. Other sensors can measure the quality of the water. Using a greenhouse automation system, capturing the data provided by these sensors is simple and effective. Closing the loop, the automation system will use the data to regulate the time and amount of irrigation delivered directly to the plants that need them.
- Maintaining the right temperature: Sudden or unexpected changes in temperature can be a major cause of crop failure. It is one of the main reasons greenhouses are used. However, as most will know, greenhouses are prone to overheating on sunny days and are not immune to frost on cold nights. They were originally designed as glass houses to capture the sun’s heat. Vents are included to help minimize overheating. Using a greenhouse automation system, this cycle becomes much more controllable. The inside temperature is monitored continuously, air conditioning solutions can be used to maintain the best overall temperature for plant growth.
- Closing the loop on crop growth: A greenhouse automation system provides a closed-loop approach to what has traditionally been an unregulated microclimate. The ability to measure and act provides greater stability over the conditions critical for growth. Automation essentially removes the instability in the system and delivers higher crop yield.
- Reduced energy usage: With greater control comes faster response. This leads to a reduction in total energy usage because making small adjustments frequently means not having to take more drastic actions periodically. The total energy cost per crop will go down by using energy more efficiently. This leads to an overall increase in greenhouse efficiency in terms of energy used and crops yielded.
Using the power of the IoT to provide real-time control leads to higher commercial greenhouse efficiency. Automated systems monitor all the critical conditions involved with indoor crop growth. They use this data to regulate and stabilize the growing conditions, leading to higher yield and lower overall costs. As the population continues to increase and migrate toward larger urbanized areas, the need for efficient indoor growing solutions will also increase. Greenhouse automation using the IoT is happening now.