Part 2 – environmental control systems
At IGS, we recognise that as a greenhouse operator you are constantly looking for ways to maximise your profitability and combat stiff competition. We wanted to explore how you can use IoT technology to do this by improving productivity and reducing energy consumption: this blog is the second in our series doing just that. The first post discussed lighting management systems as one key aspect; you can access it here. Through this piece, we’ll look at some other environmental issues that can impact your greenhouse and the solutions available to combat them.
CO2 monitoring and temperature
CO2 monitoring is particularly important within a greenhouse environment, as horticulturalists can inadvertently reduce glasshouses’ CO2 levels if they limit airflow to stop heat loss in winter. You can use IoT sensors and controllers to monitor and maintain set maximum and minimum CO2 levels. The controllers can inject CO2 from compressed or liquid sources, or activate CO2 burners. Additionally, an automated system can integrate CO2 levels with other environmental parameters such as ambient and supplemental light intensity, temperature, and ventilation.
All plants have an optimum temperature at which they grow the fastest. By integrating IoT monitoring technology, you can set up your climate control around your crop’s anticipated finish date, and maintain an optimum temperature throughout the plants’ entire life cycle. Humidity is a related factor: North American growers refer to the ‘85/85 rule’, which says that ideal commercial greenhouse conditions comprise 85 per cent relative humidity (RH) and 85 degrees Fahrenheit temperature.
You can use active ventilation, along with dehumidifiers and air movers, to remove excess water and humidity. The right humidity will ensure that greenhouse vegetables and flowers can achieve maximum health and growth, with minimal threats from insects and disease.
Greenhouse automation systems can reduce labour intensity and costs while assuring crop productivity – especially automated irrigation systems. These ensure that your crops always receive the correct amount of water at the right times, while freeing up your staff for other activities. Such systems can be automatically started for example by sun sensors, and controlled by measurements of humidity and temperature in the growing substratei.
Running your greenhouse environment as a single entity
While we have discussed the issues of CO2, temperature, ventilation, humidity, and irrigation separately, the reality is that they are all interrelated – something that we at IGS understand only too well. The company originally brought together decades of farming and engineering experience to create a technology business with a vision to revolutionise the indoor growing market through vertical farming technology. The commitment to innovation has continued apace and IGS has evolved the applications of this technology to create the Intelligent Grid. With its robust, flexible, and futureproof design, the Intelligent Grid now offers an integrated solution for greenhouse environments.
The Intelligent Grid not only provides a platform for all necessary lights, sensors, and other devices, but it also has the capability to integrate all its inputs. This allows you to control your entire greenhouse environment through one interface, as a single cohesive entity.
As rising population numbers increase demand for crops while more extreme weather conditions reduce their yield, technology can help to improve food supply security. By investing in technology solutions for your greenhouses, you can boost their productivity and begin to future-proof your supply.
To learn more, please visit our Horticulture and IoT farming page.