Technology Innovations That are Shaping the future of Greenhouse Farming

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Greenhouse Technology Innovation Shaping the Future

Greenhouse farming is evolving. The demand for locally grown produce, challenges of traditional outdoor farming, and increasing climate disturbances are all driving the spread of commercial greenhouses across the US. 

Greenhouse technology continues to advance, and recent innovations are giving farmers more control over their growing environment than ever before. These innovations have led to a technology-based approach to greenhouse farming called Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA).

Greenhouses outfitted with CEA technology are producing higher yields with lower operational costs, less water, and fewer fertilizers and pesticides. These systems are more efficient and reduce ecological impact.

The challenges of the future depend on a more resilient food system, and emerging technologies give greenhouse growers the opportunity to be more ecologically friendly while meeting consumer demand for fresh, local fruits and vegetables. 

CEA represents the future of high-tech greenhouses. In fact, there are multiple technologies involved in CEA that are shaping the future of greenhouse farming.

Learn more about greenhouse solutions from Prospiant

Technologies That Are Ideal for Greenhouse Farming

Greenhouses are uniquely suited for the adoption of cutting-edge advancements in agricultural technology. Unlike open field farming which is in many ways at the mercy of the weather and climate, almost every aspect of greenhouse farming can be controlled. 

So, from temperature and humidity to light and water, new technologies can be introduced to create better growing conditions and ultimately grow crops with higher yields. From local farms to commercial growing operations, technology is making greenhouse farming easier and more efficient.

Intelligent Automation

Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly integrating into a wide range of commercial technologies, and greenhouses are no exception. Through use of smart sensors, AI systems can collect and analyze environmental data and make informed decisions.

Real-time measurements of temperature, humidity, pH, and other factors allow AI systems to make precise adjustments to the conditions of the greenhouse. Irrigation and lighting systems can be directed to provide exact amounts of output by AI, rather than human growers continuously monitoring and adjusting. With quality intelligent automation, optimal growth of fruits and vegetables can be achieved with less manual input and with less human error. 

Using artificial intelligence to manage sensitive growing environments might seem less reliable than human labor, but the more work an AI program does, the smarter it becomes. The smallest environmental differences can be detected, and over time, AI can learn to create predictably perfect growing conditions.

Self-Sufficient Water Systems

Providing the right amount of fresh water to growing plants can be tricky. Even with state-of-the-art irrigation systems in place, water needs to be intelligently dispensed for crops to achieve the highest yields. And as droughts and corresponding water bans become more frequent throughout the US, greenhouses need to be as efficient as possible with their water systems.

With the use of automatic irrigation systems, greenhouse operations can provide their plants with optimal watering while significantly reducing water waste. Water recirculation from irrigated plants, rainwater harvesting, and collection of internal condensation are just a few examples of the self-sufficient water technology innovations in greenhouse farming.

Optimized Lighting Levels

While sunlight is an indispensable part of the typical greenhouse growing process, proper lighting can be difficult to regulate with only the sun to rely on. Especially considering that different regions can experience dramatically different amounts of sunlight throughout the year.

Traditional incandescent lights are no longer viable for efficient growing. Instead, light emitting diodes (LEDs) have become a popular choice for greenhouses in need of extra lighting. LED lights are not only highly energy efficient and long-lasting, but also have a flexible light spectrum that can be adjusted for particular plants. While high-pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide (MH) lamps are still widely used, LED lights are quickly becoming the preferred lighting technology for many greenhouse operations.

Cooling Technology

Greenhouses are often thought of as a warm refuge for plants in colder months when outdoor growing isn’t possible. For many traditional greenhouses, heat retention is a key feature. However, excess heat can inhibit plant growth and cooling systems may need to be implemented to regulate greenhouse temperatures.

Traditionally, this is achieved through natural ventilation by designing a greenhouse structure with strategically placed vents to promote airflow.

However, cooling can also be achieved through mechanical ventilation with use of fans regulated by an environmental control computer system, AI software, or thermostat.

But evaporative cooling technologies are perhaps the most innovative for greenhouse farming. Evaporative pads can be used in combination with exhaust fans to cool outside air as it’s pulled into the structure and push hot air out. Fogging and misting systems can help to cool internal greenhouse temperatures and provide additional humidity.

Strategic Shading

Strategic use of screen shades can help to lower energy consumption while protecting plants from UV and thermal damage. While this technology has been available for some time, there have been steady improvements in fire-retardant materials and shade screen control systems. 

Like many factors involved in greenhouse farming, shade screen systems can be controlled by automated timers or even AI software. A photo sensor can detect when light levels reach amounts required to deploy shade screens and can even adjust to account for daily changes in the length of the day.

Combined Heat & Power (CHP) Systems

Energy requirements for high-tech greenhouses can be high. Through the use of combined heat and power (CHP) systems, greenhouses can recover thermal energy generated onsite into energy. This energy can be stored for future use, exported to the electrical grid, or used to power greenhouse equipment. 

CHP systems can be used to provide electricity, heat, cooling, and CO2 fertilization at a more cost-effective rate while reducing emissions. This technology is not only great for smaller greenhouse operations but can also meet the energy demands of commercial greenhouses. Not to mention, CHP systems can reduce reliance on the electrical grid and help growers to avoid costly power outages by generating energy onsite. 

Why Is It Vital to Adopt Greenhouse Technology?

Innovations in technology are accelerating like never before. Powerful computers, advanced robotics, and revolutionary software can be found driving efficiency in almost every industry. In a crowded marketplace, those who fail to adopt new technologies are bound to be left in the dust by the competition. 

Greenhouse technology is vital for growing the best quality crops at the highest yields. It’s vital for reducing costs and increasing productivity. And it’s vital for the benefit of the environment.

Technology gives greenhouses the ability to create ideal growing conditions tailored to the exact needs of particular plants. But not all growers have the time or manpower to make continuous manual adjustments to their growing systems. New greenhouse technology can help close the gap between human limitations and optimal growing.  

Automation and AI reduce manual labor needs while streamlining greenhouse management. Real-time monitoring gives automated systems the ability to make changes as they’re needed without constant supervision from a human operator. Smart sensors can even detect when doors and smart windows have been left open, helping to secure the premises and maintain a controlled growing environment.

Through the use of automated technology, individual plants can yield more flowers, fruits and vegetables compared to traditional farming methods. Since every aspect of the growing environment is precisely controlled, plants can thrive under the best conditions. Consumers continue to crave the highest quality local produce and there’s no better option than year round greenhouse farming supported by cutting-edge technology to meet the demand.

But beyond sheer productivity, greenhouse technology is vital for the benefit of people and the planet.

The future  depends on the adoption of new sustainable agriculture technologies to solve the challenges of our food system. The global population is growing while climate change and international tensions threaten food production.

Technology-driven controlled environment agriculture provides a sustainable alternative to traditional farming. More crops can be harvested with fewer resources and less space, and growing isn’t dependent on climate or weather. As food insecurity increases, greenhouse technology could make a significant impact in the nutritional needs of millions.

The Prospiant Solution

If you need a technology-backed greenhouse solution, trust Prospiant. We strive to provide our partners with all the support they need to find the right technology to boost their controlled environment agriculture efforts.
Prospiant is your leading source for indoor grow and greenhouse cultivation facilities — all backed by decades of in-house expertise. We’ll guide you through every stage of your project, ensuring that your greenhouse technology aligns with your operational goals.

We specialize in designing and building controlled environment agriculture solutions for businesses of all sizes. You’ll get a complete produce ecosystem tailored to your unique needs with all the support you need for greenhouse farming success. Whether you specialize in one crop or want to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, we have the greenhouse solution for you.

When you need to set up, get growing, prove profitability, and scale fast, choose Prospiant.

FAQs

Advantages of greenhouse technology include higher crop yields, better product quality,  extended growing seasons, increased crop diversity, and reduced costs over time. On a global level, greenhouse technology can also help to address food insecurity as traditional farming becomes more difficult.

The future of greenhouses will likely involve more widespread adoption of technologies like combined heat and power (CHP) systems, cooling pad and fogging systems, and artificial intelligence-powered greenhouse management.

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