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Creating a complete dataset in vertical farming solutions

May 10, 2021

Stacked growing beds full of leafy greens under artificial light and in a mesmerising mist. That’s the description of an indoor vertical farm at LettUs Grow. It’s their mission to bring the point of production closer to the point of consumption and enable anyone to grow food anywhere. This will reduce the waste and carbon footprint in fresh food production. With their vertical farming solutions they aim to boost the indoor farming industry. Analysing data is key to their mission.

LettUs Grow provides technology for vertical farms and greenhouses. The British company combines indoor farm management software with their own aeroponics technology. In their soil-less system the plant roots are suspended in a nutrient rich mist. It’s a recirculating system which makes it resource efficient. Because of the controlled environment there is no use for pesticides. The system is created to maximise growing rates, while minimising the environmental impact.

Researcher Ricardo Lopes in an indoor vertical farm.

Ricardo Lopes in an indoor vertical farm container.

Ricardo Lopes is a plant researcher for LettUs Grow . He started out in the greenhouse industry and switched to vertical farming. He saw that the last 5 years more and more people are starting to take this innovative approach more seriously. “The last few years there is more research being done in this field. Probably the same process that was happening in the greenhouse industry 20-30 years ago.”

LettUs Grow and Ricardo are optimistic that vertical farming will find its place in the food supply chain. “Maybe not next year, but maybe in 5-10 years we’ll be able to supply a significant amount of fresh products worldwide. Not replacing any other system, but complementary. Especially in large cities.”

Tracking CO2 levels for people and plants

Ricardo is testing a large variety of crops in the LettUs Grow system. Always looking for new techniques and methods. “A large amount of my time is spent on analysing data. Either plant data or environmental data. To optimise our indoor farms we had to do a lot of tweaks on environmental performance. In that process it’s very important to collect reliable data. We analyse every change we try to implement.”

In a vertical farm data is essential, says Ricardo. He tells about a test he recently did. “We started injecting CO2 into our indoor farms. We needed to have a safe way of doing it and monitor the CO2 levels in our R&D chamber. It had to be safe in the farm for both humans and plants. So we set up alarms for higher and lower levels. I monitored the data a few times a day in the 30MHz platform and it all looked as it should.”

Measure the indoor farm environment

In such a controlled environment, Ricardo relies on various data sources. He needed a place where all these different sources come together, so he could do quick checks on environmental data. LettUs Grow needed a platform to provide a realistic image of the environment inside the vertical farms.

“We had a good data set for what the farm was doing, but reliable and constant environmental data was something we didn’t have at the beginning. Now we have everything. We can check data back to the minute in the 30MHz platform. It’s useful to see the fluctuation during tests with different levels of temperature and humidity, for instance. The 30MHz platform is a visual way of spotting any problems or spotting if something did go wrong at any point overnight or over the week. It made it a lot easier. Where we need high quality environmental data, we use 30MHz.”

For LettUs Grow it’s all about optimisation of the controlled environment. To optimise it they need a lot of data and a reliable perception of what is happening inside the vertical farms. “That’s only possible when you have decent sensors and all your data in a digital place”, says Ricardo. “Horticulture is more and more dependent on data and what data tells us.”

Indoor farm or any other growing environment: 30MHz can help you get more out of your data. Feel free to ask us your questions. Email or fill in this form to get more information.

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