Protected Cropping is a term that can describe a range of environments where there is some form of protection against the elements.
We describe protected cropping environments to include:
- Hoop houses
- Tunnel houses
- Canopy protection
These are great for crops like berries, leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash etc. - which can be grown in soil or hydroponically.
Many of our customers have migrated from fully outdoors to protected cropping and have seen great improvements in yield and quality of their crops. Some studies show that you can get an extra four to six weeks of production with protected cropping techniques versus open field cropping/farming.
What should be automated in the growing environment?
With sections of the environment exposed to the elements there are still things you can automate that will help grow your business and take the hassle out of some of the more time-consuming tasks.
Depending on the size, type and structure of your production you can monitor or control:
- Root zone
Your system should alert you when there’s a problem and allow you to access and manage everything remotely.
Why is it important to automate your protected cropping environment?
With additional external factors to consider, plants in these environments need to be closely monitored to ensure the conditions are ideal for growth. The climate can change rapidly over the day requiring different watering schedules to be established.
Automation will take care of that for you as it can factor in all the variables and then trigger the system to make changes.
Here are a few examples of why it’s important to automate (there are many others):
Don't create a happy home for pests and diseases
Sometimes conditions are perfect for pests to visit your crops or diseases to establish themselves. Overwatering or underwatering can create a perfect environment that will encourage visitors you don’t want to stay.
Automation will ensure you have the optimal conditions that can reduce the risk of pests and diseases.
Getting ahead of the weather
The weather can play a significant role for any grower and keeping track of weather patterns and optimizing accordingly is the key to great crops. With an automated system it can trigger watering when the climate data or even the run-off show specific levels.
What are the overall benefits of automating your protected cropping operation?
There are quite a few benefits to protected cropping operation 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 to your workers.
Know exactly what’s happening in your greenhouse and make data driven decisions based on facts and not assumptions. The technology exists to benefit you as the grower!
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).
If you want to know more about the benefits of automated greenhouses get in touch and we will be happy to share our knowledge and expertise to get you up and running.
Here is a guide on the Top 10 Things You Should Know on Automated Dosing.