Greenhouse automation has long been seen as a technology available only to large greenhouse growers with large bank accounts.
The many grants that can facilitate the purchase of greenhouse automation systems have allowed small market gardeners to develop more interest in recent years. With automation system options available for as little as $35/month, this technology is becoming an affordable solution for market gardeners. That's why small vegetable companies like La Grelinette Farm and Rutabaga Ranch are increasingly turning to greenhouse automation to simplify their production.
Several devices and greenhouse sensors can be automated in the greenhouse to simplify your production management. Each has its respective benefits. Let's see what you can gain with greenhouse automation!
If you'd like more information on how greenhouse automation can simplify your life, contact us!
Temperature and humidity control
Almost all greenhouse heaters can be automated, but the process will be easier with an on/off furnace. Typically, small greenhouses are heated with a propane furnace, but biomass or electric furnaces can also be common.
You will have a better control of the heating in your greenhouse by automating your furnace; since the heating will be synchronized with the ventilation, it will not work unnecessarily. No more wasted energy and high bills!
By manually controlling your greenhouse’s temperature, it is common to see large variations in temperature, causing stress to the plants during growth. You will find it easier to maintain an optimal greenhouse temperature by automating your heating system.
Ventilation equipment that can be automated in your greenhouse includes:
positive and negative pressure fans;
roof and side vents.
Greenhouse ventilation is essential to change the air in your greenhouse, lower the temperature and bring dry air in to dehumidify. Ventilation plays a vital role in greenhouse humidity management, which can be difficult to manage daily. You can simplify humidity management by automating your greenhouse ventilation with a system, like Orisha, that incorporates the expertise needed to provide the ideal living conditions for plants.
Like heating, greenhouse automation will help you avoid energy waste, since your equipment will not be in competition. Also, you will save time by not interrupting your tasks to manually manage your climate management equipment.
Horizontal Air Flow fan (HAF)
The purpose of HAFs is to even out your greenhouse temperature and climate.
Usually, market gardeners leave HAFs running 24 hours a day, but with automation, they can be turned off when the air in your greenhouse becomes too dry. This will limit the stress on the plants when they are exposed to excessively dry air.
24V AC electric valve
We often see market gardeners managing their irrigation manually or with a timer. While these are good options, you'll be able to more easily change your irrigation plans, remotely start or stop your greenhouse irrigation and make sure everything is on schedule from your phone.
No more interrupting your tasks to travel to the greenhouse, start the irrigation, restart your tasks and interrupt AGAIN to stop the irrigation! Gone are the days of wasting water and the constant stress of remembering to turn off your valves. With the right system, you'll finally have peace of mind knowing that the automation will take care of optimizing the greenhouse conditions according to your crops' needs.
Humidity soil sensor
A soil humidity sensor allows you to better prepare your irrigation plan and the right time to irrigate according to the plants' needs. By optimizing your irrigation plan you will increase your yield.
Linking this greenhouse sensor to your greenhouse automation system will help you quickly detect irrigation problems — such as a broken drip that lacks pressure or water damage that floods your crops — and act quickly.
The solar sensor, linked to a weather station, measures the daily sunlight intensity, which directly affects the irrigation frequency of your crops. With the solar sensor, you’ll be able to adjust more easily your irrigation according to the real needs of your plants by knowing the amount of light they receive each day.
The solar sensor is an excellent way to be rigorous in your observations to optimize your production. It is thanks to this type of greenhouse sensor that market gardeners like Marie Morin of Serres St-Laz have been able to triple their yield!
Other greenhouse sensors
Several other greenhouse sensors and features, such as alerts, can reduce your stress by simplifying your production management. To learn more about alerts, we invite you to read this article explaining the importance of alerts in a greenhouse automation system.
Indoor - outdoor temperature and humidity sensors
These greenhouse sensors allow you to follow the evolution of temperature and humidity both outside and inside your greenhouse. with indoor-outdoor temperature and humidity sensors, you’ll be able to compare these parameters and adjust the conditions inside your greenhouse according to the outside.
Some greenhouse automation systems provide access to the data history of your indoor-outdoor temperature and humidity sensors. The overview offered by these graphs allows you to see the evolution of the different parameters of your greenhouse.
This box is linked to all of your greenhouse sensors related to the weather: solar sensor, wind speed sensor and rain sensor. This allows you to detect the weather conditions outside the greenhouse and adjust your programs and openings of the openings. It's a way to simplify the management of greenhouse conditions without breaking your head!
Wind speed sensor
Have you ever been away from the farm, left the sides open and all of a sudden a strong wind comes up and you have to rush home to close your windows before your plants get damaged? Stressful, isn't it?
Well, linking a wind speed sensor to your weather station will show you the presence and strength of the wind directly on your phone. This way, in situations like the one described above, a wind speed sensor can help you prevent problems and remotely close your windows before any damage occurs. Furthermore, depending on the wind direction, some systems like Orisha will detect which side to open first when linked to a wind speed sensor.
Like the wind, rain can be quite devastating to your crops when the vents aren't closed in time. And everyone knows that you don't need another stress in your daily life.
The rain sensor tells you if it is raining outside the greenhouse. When the rain sensor detects that it’s pouring outside, a signal is sent to your system, which will automatically close the vents for you, to protect your plants. Pretty simple, right?
With automation, many market gardeners have been able to :
increase their yields by up to 30% in the first year;
optimize their greenhouse production management according to the needs of their plants
Save time each day to do other tasks and spend time with their loved ones;
Reduce stress related to greenhouse management and production.
It is possible to relieve much of the pressure on your shoulders. By automating your greenhouse, all the micromanagement of your crops will be taken care of for you, leaving you more time for your other tasks.
Would you like to know more about the greenhouse automation system used by the market gardeners at FQT Farm? Contact us now!