Hydroponics is the growing of plants without soil as a medium while delivering water, nutrients and oxygen. It is a great sustainable way of growing with water savings anywhere between 70% and 90% depending on the type of crop and your set-up.
There are different types of hydroponic systems including:
- NFT (Nutrient Film Technique)
- Drip System
- Ebb & Flow (Flood & Drain)
- Wicks System
- Water culture
Crops grown in these environments include microgreens, leafy greens and medicinal cannabis
What should you automate in your hydroponic system?
Depending on the size, type and structure of your grow room you can control:
Your system should alert you when there’s a problem and allow you to access and manage everything by remote access.
Why is it important to automate your hydroponic system?
With hydroponics any interruption in watering or feeding can ruin the crops fast. Where the root zone is exposed - NFT, Aeroponics – they can dry out quickly, so an automated system will ensure things run accurately.
Here are a few examples of why it’s important to automate (there are many others):
Registering your run-off
Your water run-off can tell you about the health of your plant. Depending on the type of crop, growth stage and growing method your run-off varies, but may be kept around 20%. If you are fertigating, the run-off will indicate how much nutrient the plants have taken and thereby make any required adjustments.
An automated control system can monitor and measure your run-off for you. The data gathered can then be used to ensure compliance with local legislation if required and give you an accurate measurement of expenditure.
Water right every time
If you are manually watering it can be easy to overwater or underwater your plants. To be accurate you would need to stick to a good schedule to make sure there are no inconsistencies.
What are the overall benefits of automating your grow room?
There are quite a few benefits to grow room automation but here’s a few:
Decrease your labor costs
Automation can either decrease your labor costs or allow you to free up workers to focus on other areas of importance. Perfect if you are looking to expand your business or introduce new skills into your labor force.
Know exactly what’s happening in your grow room and make data driven decisions based on facts and not assumptions. The technology exists to benefit you as the grower!
Set and forget
The key to automation is being able to rely on the technology to do the work for you. Once you set the parameters you can forget about it and focus on other important tasks. If a problem comes up, the system will then alert you (via email or text message) and you can log in to check the data.
Increase quality and yield
If you don’t measure you can’t improve. Automation will give you the knowledge to increase quality and yield, learn from previous crop cycles, and give you better return on investment (ROI).
Automation can tell you immediately when something is wrong. This is the most important part of automation and can mitigate your losses. You need to consider how much you would lose if you don’t have an alert system as part of your system.
If you want to know more about the benefits of automated grow rooms get in touch and we will be happy to share our knowledge and expertise to get you up and running.
Here are two webinars we ran which are applicable for hydroponic systems:
NOTE: The size and scope of your operation may require different solutions. Please contact us for a more detailed discussion on what is the best approach for your business.