Smart Greenhouse Growers Turn to New Advances in Technology

smart-greenhouse

Getting smarter

Hydroponics & Greenhouses, October 2015. Image credit: syahirhakim

The smart greenhouse market, based on technology, is broadly segmented into heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), LED grow lights, communication technologies, irrigation systems, material handling, valves and pumps, control systems, and other areas.

HVAC

According to industry experts, the heating requirements of a greenhouse depend on the desired temperature for the plants grown, the location and construction of the greenhouse, and the total outside exposed area of the structure. Much of the daily heat requirement may come from the sun, but if growers require their greenhouses to be more than a few degrees above the outside temperature at night, they will need to provide it with a heat source. The heating system must be adequate to maintain the desired day or night temperature. Heating systems can be fuelled by electricity, gas, oil, or wood. The choice of a heating system and fuel depends on what is locally available, the production requirements of the plants, cost, and individual choice.

Ventilation is the single most important requirement for a greenhouse, with two important purposes: providing fresh air, mainly carbon dioxide, to plants and cooling for the greenhouse. Without good ventilation, a greenhouse is nothing more than a solar furnace. Greenhouses are really designed to store heat from the sun during the day creating a warmer temperature in the greenhouse versus outside of it. This makes cooling a greenhouse on a hot day a difficult task that cannot be accomplished without a good ventilation system. Cooling in the summer can be accomplished most easily with a combination of shade, proper ventilation, and an evaporative cooling system like a misting system, fogger, or evaporative cooler.

LED grow lights

LED grow light technology holds the largest share in the overall smart greenhouse technology market. The need for energy-efficient light and long-lasting technology is one of the main reasons for its high growth in this market. LEDs have a long life of 50,000 hours, while incandescent lamps can work for only 2000 hours. They can last for nearly eight to 10 years, assuming 14 to 18 hours of daily use. Also, LEDs consume 50% and 85% less electricity than fluorescent lamps and incandescent lights, respectively.

Recent developments in LED technology create new opportunities for low- and high-intensity lighting of greenhouse crops. Light-emitting diodes have a variety of advantages over traditional forms of horticultural lighting. Their small size, durability, long lifetime, cool emitting temperature, and the option to select specific wavelengths for a targeted plant response make LEDs more suitable for plant-based uses than many other light sources.

Read More