Promoting Healthy Plant Growth While Minimizing Waste
Nutrient deficiency in plants can trickle down quickly to your bottom line, resulting in lost crops, lower yields, and wasted resources. You know that nutrient dosing starts with water—and if your water isn't prime for your grow operation, all the nutrient dosing in the world won't be able to produce high-quality yields. However, ensuring the right nutrients are delivered at the right time can make or break your grow operation.
Of the countless variables that go into running a successful indoor growing operation, installing the right lighting is one of the more crucial. Even if you have the most advanced greenhouse control system or the best fertilizer, if this one variable is off, your plants won’t be able to reach their maximum growth potential.
The ultimate goal for controlled environments? Higher, faster, more easily repeatable yields. One 25,000-square meter Japanese indoor farm produces 10,000 heads of lettuce per day, which is an impressive 100 times more per square foot than traditional, outdoor farming methods. This yield is accomplished with 40 percent less energy, 80 percent less food waste, and a mind-blowing 99 percent less water than traditional, outdoor agriculture. According to USDA data, the average yield for conventionally grown tomatoes in 2016 was 1.85 pounds per square foot, while greenhouse tomato growers saw yields of 10.59 pounds per square foot.
Properly managed temperature and humidity are key factors in helping plants to thrive in a greenhouse setting. In the absence of proper controls, however, these same factors can undermine plant health and erode yield.
Investors are looking to agricultural technology as the next hot space. With populations growing and arable land shrinking, farmers are looking for tech fixes to the challenges of modern agriculture, and venture capital is bolstering a range of creative startups in the sector.
Many experts believe small-scale agriculture is the future of growing. For those who choose that path, success may be closely tied to controlled environments and the use of agricultural technologies.
To understand how ag-tech drives success in small-scale farming, it's important to first take a closer look at small-scale agriculture: what it is, how it works, and why some envision it as the logical next step for the agricultural industry..
The technology media has been enamored with “smart” solutions lately. Smart cities generate data to better manage pollution, crime, and traffic. Smart homes lean on wireless technologies and automation to simplify daily life. Smart cars may soon navigate the highways with minimum human intervention.
Expanding an indoor farm from a single small room to multiple grow rooms can create—for lack of a better expression—some growing pains. Entrepreneurs often find that what works in a small grow room with a few plants doesn’t work in larger grow rooms. The environment is harder to control. Precise nutrient recipes are harder to hand-mix. And it’s harder to do it all with so many things pressing for time and attention.