Smart Greenhouse – Redesigning Plant Production

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Greenhouse or more commonly known as a glasshouse is specifically created to protect tender or seasonal plants against the unpredictable climate changes. Alike vertical or indoor farming, a greenhouse provides a controlled environment customized for the plants that are cultivated inside. This technique used for growing seasonal vegetation has been practiced since traditional times. However with the advancement of modern technology, the greenhouse is also now becoming smarter. 

As things are changing, the adoption of new and sophisticated technologies like geo-positioning systems, robotics and centre pivot irrigation systems are being used by farmers to better manage their farmlands. Hence farmers are always on the look-out for modern and improved farm technology to simplify the agricultural process.

How does a Greenhouse function?
In simple words, a greenhouse turns the sun rays or the light energy into heat energy, which is absorbed by the plants and converted to heat. The structure is made up of either using traditional glass or plastic films. There are also windows and vents fitted in the greenhouse as during the summer season it can get very hot. Similarly during the winters or when there is not enough sunlight, heating objects are placed inside to get the right amount of warmth for sustaining the vegetation. Obviously this again requires manual intervention by the farmers.

However the major driving factors for the adoption of the greenhouse method are growing demands for quality food with minimal environmental impact. Also, the surging trend towards no-weather-related crop failures, environment-friendly methods, increasing urban population and progress in crop production year-round are driving the growth of the market. Additionally with greenhouse farming, farmers are protected from heavyweight farming equipment, harmful chemicals, diseases and natural calamities.

Due to increasing population and declining resources, the farming industry has started facing the pressure. As the unpredictability of the weather and the economy intensifies in the current pandemic situation, farmers are turning towards advanced technologies to boost crop production efficiency and a smart greenhouse is a perfect example. There have been major increases in food consumption across the world, and as the economic power of consumers rises with the years their demand rises as well, rendering the years to come crucial for mankind. Now, the increase on the population, including the increase in demand for food, renders crucial the existence of alternative and more sustainable food productions, thus a more sustainable agriculture plan has to take place.

A smart greenhouse
With the advancing revolution taking place in all the spheres of life, the new era is bringing humans and machines to start working together, as we take the help of smart devices to enhance our daily work. The smart technology is making waves in every industry and is being streamlined for an automated approach.

Depending on the purpose of building a greenhouse, the large ones are usually built for the use of agriculture and botanical science, while the smaller ones are made by home gardeners as a hobby to collect and grow exotic plants. Several categories of plants are grown in the greenhouse, and the adjustment is made based on their temperature requirements during day and night time hours. Also, majority of the greenhouse growths are high value and exotic plants, which can be a target for burglary. Hence many growers often install effective security systems such as surveillance cameras and sensor technologies. Besides, the growers can remotely control the performance of the greenhouse by installing a smart application on their phone or desktop. 

Where a traditional greenhouse requires consistent and manual intervention by the farmer or the person tending to the greenhouse plants, a smart greenhouse has automated mechanisms in place. Smart greenhouses are equipped with modern devices that helps capture and provide information on the vegetation, round the clock. The collected data assists the automated technologies with the lightening adjustments to maintain the best conditions for plant growth, irrigation facilities, as well as keep a timely check on the crop growth. 

With these smart features, irrigation and fertilization facilities are activated at the right times, thus ensuring high-yielding crops. Apart from climatic changes, crop infection can be a challenge for the farmers. With smart machine applications, a detailed data consisting of the greenhouse atmosphere, soil features for different crops and the external weather conditions help farmers understand the risk of pests and other infections. In this way they can apply the required treatments on a timely manner for healthy crops. The global smart greenhouse market is predicted to grow with a CAGR of 12.1% over the forecast period from 2020-2026.

In spite of all the challenges and risks, the world has the resources and technology to eliminate hunger and make sure there is food for everyone in the long run. Keeping up with the trend of how new systems can help manage and boost efficiency on the field is a good practice. New and smart technology plays a big role with almost anything in crop production today. While resolving key crop issues, a smart greenhouse minimises manual work and improves the productivity without compromising on harvest quality.