Greenhouse Innovations To Complement A Smart Home
The greenhouse farming industry is playing a key role in today’s agriculture and commercial food growing processes.
12:43 26 May 2021
With a changing climate comes changing weather patterns. These have been characterized by ‘unseasonal’ conditions such as extended dry spells and flooding events. Unforeseen weather events – extreme heat or torrential rains – create havoc with crop growing.
Large commercial greenhouse farming protects against these adverse weather events by providing shielding crops in a protected, environmentally controlled environment.
Many of these fundamentals are capable of being applied to the home greenhouse in a way that makes the greenhouse the perfect outdoor complement to today’s smart home.
The Modern Greenhouse
The basic greenhouse is not a new invention. The Romans were said to have used the basic greenhouse concept in 30AD to grow ‘out of season’ vegetables for an ailing emperor, by covering a growing area with an opaque covering to create a humid, moist environment.
Today, even the humble greenhouse gains a benefit from several smart innovations to improve the control of its operation.
The basic physics of the greenhouse
To understand the range of smart innovations which can potentially enhance the operation of the greenhouse, it is prudent to start with a look at how the basic greenhouse design actually works.
The operation of the greenhouse actually relies on a smart physics design principle. Basically a greenhouse works by converting light into heat. Light waves pass easily through the glass structure and are absorbed by the plants and objects inside the greenhouse. This energy is converted into heat, which cannot travel back through the glass as easily as light waves.
Thus the greenhouse is capable of creating a small independent ‘micro-system’ that benefits the growth of plants, vegetables, and crops.
With advances in technology, the basic greenhouse now benefits from a range of smart innovations which serve to optimize control of the micro-system – heat, light, ventilation/airflow, and moisture being amongst the most important control factors.
For the smart home greenhouse, a primary concern is the control and metering of water. A smart irrigation system uses wireless sensors to monitor temperature and soil moisture to control the irrigation system. Commercial installations take this to a further level of sophistication which is perhaps beyond the needs of the domestic greenhouse – they can also monitor other factors like soil pH level (acidity/alkalinity) through a software application.
Eco-friendly watering systems
With many places now facing water shortages and restrictions, a rainwater harvest system can reduce the reliance on scheme water supply and provide a more eco-friendly solution. Coupled to the irrigation system, the rainwater system takes advantage of natural rainfall and collects moisture (condensation) respired by plants within the greenhouse to recirculate.
Smart lighting control
Lighting, and the control of light, is one of the key considerations in a greenhouse operation. To augment the basic mechanical controls, a smart system uses light-level sensors to control an artificial lighting system. This provides obvious benefits where the control of light is more critical.
The operation of the humble greenhouse is greatly augmented by a series of smart innovations. With changing climate and a move to more eco-friendly living, the modern greenhouse has an important place within the smart home environment.