\ How a connected greenhouse will improve production and lower costs
Feature: Page (1) of 1 - 04/30/16

How a connected greenhouse will improve production and lower costs

By Paul Fitzgerald for America's Backbone Weekly

Wireless sensors are unique and beneficial technology that can monitor and enhance the climate for vastly improved efficiency and boost growth. The wireless sensor technology that's available on the market can connect an industrial-scale greenhouse in a way that will allow tracking of temperature, humidity, light and CO levels around your plants. New technology can maximize your yields by preventing unnecessary losses: here's how you can monitor and protect
your greenhouses from anywhere, 24/7.

Getting Started

Installing wireless thermistor temperature sensors to accurately measure temperatures is the first step in the remote monitoring process. These are perfect for monitoring ambient temperatures at a physical location and the customization function allows users to set the frequency of readings and the ability to set thresholds for alerts via SMS text and/or email.

Next, pair it with a customization function to allow monitoring of relative humidity within an enclosure and is ideal for greenhouses, industrial spaces, museums, saunas and humidors, for those cigar aficionados out there. They also have residential applications such as controlling mold, mildew and even dust mites.

Wireless Sensors, Technology and Connected Greenhouses

Poisoning by CO is understood as a legitimate concern for the elderly, children and immune-compromised individuals; however CO also greatly affects the production of flowers and decorative plants. Wireless sensor platforms and online monitoring software provide a very affordable solution that allows you to monitor the level of carbon monoxide (CO) gas in the surrounding air. User interface makes for easy frequency of readings and the ability to set alerts via SMS text or email when the sensor detects CO levels outside of the optimal range.

Growing inside the confined space of a greenhouse also allows the manipulation of light which farmers use to stimulate growth and maturation in shorter periods of time. Wireless light meters can measure light intensity in lux (luminescence/unit area), from 0 1000 lux (indoor range), which is perfect for giving crops the correct light at right times to stimulate growth. As with other quality sensors, you can set the frequency of readings and thresholds for notifications and alerts by SMS text, email or voice call.

And as the old saying goes, "don't let the door hit you on the way out," a greenhouse's efficiency depends on the door staying shut and if opening windows is part of your growing process, ensuring they are shut in the evening when outside temperatures can plummet and kill crops. Adding wireless open/closed sensors give real-time information on the status of doors, windows, or cabinets. It also allows users to know if a building or area is being accessed when it shouldn't be, or if a door or window has been left open by accident. As with other devices in this realm, these sensors can be set up to notify a user by SMS text, email or voice call.

As all of these factors CO levels, temperature, humidity, artificial light and security require a power source to affect one way or the other, the most important wireless sensor is the one that monitors your energy source. As with other sensor devices available on the market, your smartphone is the hub to receive alerts when power is down and can also allow you to activate a backup source like a diesel generator.

The integration of wireless sensor networks in greenhouses is a relatively recent concept but leads to precision agriculture. These systems can be designed to increase the quality agricultural yield by properly monitoring soil and environment.

Some farmers have been reluctant to implement wireless sensor networks to make their greenhouses more connected because of associated upfront and maintenance costs. However, as technology is advancing costs are going down and this is positive news for the agriculture industry. With an entire crop riding on the success or failure of a greenhouse program, and if you cannot be on site 24/7, wireless sensors are the future and will ultimately reduce overheads, increase yields and increase your revenue.

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