LEDs play major role in impacting global smart greenhouse market
Technavio’s latest report on the global smart greenhouse market provides an analysis of the key trends expected to impact the market through 2016-2020. Technavio defines an emerging trend as a factor that has the potential to significantly impact the market and contribute to its growth or decline.
The global smart greenhouse market is likely to exceed USD 1.3 billion by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 17%. According to Vishu Rai, lead analyst at Technavio for power research, “Shortage of food is expected in the future owing to population growth, urbanization, and harsh weather conditions. One of the solutions to this problem is greenhouse crop cultivation. In greenhouse cultivation, food is grown under controlled environments, where the rate of photosynthesis can be altered by modifying light intensity, carbon monoxide level, and temperature.”
The top three emerging trends influencing the global smart greenhouse market according toTechnavio’s energy researchanalysts are:
One of the primary purposes of smart technology is to improve energy efficiency. Power is the highest operating expenditure for greenhouses. Power is used mainly for heating, cooling, and lighting. Growers are using LED grow lights and smart heating and cooling technologies to reduce their power consumption, thus reducing costs.
Sensors, power strips, and control devices help to achieve the optimal temperature required for the healthy growth of crops. The centralized network allows for the continuous monitoring of temperature, which can be sent for analysis to further improve the process.
Governmental policies and initiatives
Various governments are planning to set standards for LED lighting. In the US, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers has formed the Plant Growth LED Lighting Committee to develop new standards for the plant-grower community.
Such standards and policies will help in increasing the use of smart technologies in order to increase the efficiency of greenhouses. A number of greenhouse cultivators are using technologies such as grow lights, smart irrigation systems and heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems for better control of their environment. Among the technologies used, LED grow lights are the most popular as they stimulate photosynthesis.
Rise in rooftop farming
Technological advancements such as hydroponics allow farmers to grow crops without soil and encourage rooftop farming. They help in promoting biodiversity inside cities and use underutilized space to address food security issues and promote sustainable development. Chicago has the largest rooftop greenhouse in the world. It is powered by three solar trees that move with the sun and a wind turbine. Plants in the greenhouse are grown using the hydroponic method, which employs smart technologies such as computer-controlled irrigation, and heating and cooling systems.
One of the major concerns in adding smart technologies to greenhouse farming is the cost involved in setting up the network. It requires high upfront investment, but open-source technologies like Arduino and Raspberry Pi have enabled farmers to control their smart devices at a lower cost. These technologies can be implemented in home projects or small farms, like rooftop farms, and the open standards allow for scalability at the commercial level as well.
The added functionality of Internet connectivity allows farmers to remotely operate their greenhouses. These systems can control the temperature, adjust the moisture content, and manage the fertilizer supply and lighting conditions in the greenhouse. “As smart greenhouses produce high crop yields, investors can quickly pay off their high initial investment,” says Vishu.