01 Feb 8farm boosts production by over 40% using Farmio
Controlled environment agriculture and precision farming are modern techniques that provide significant yield increases among a series of other benefits. However, implementing these require in-depth knowledge, a lot of time, and effort. ForFarming’s cloud based IoT software Farmio makes these techniques easier and more affordable for farmers to implement by providing remote monitoring and automated control capabilities to sensors and devices on-site. This document describes how Farmio’s automation increases an indoor farm’s efficiency and yield.
8farm is an indoor farming company growing fresh herbs in a 45 m2 area. They produce in 8 flood & drain type grow towers, each having 3 levels of 2m2 trays. For lighting, they use 2 2-meter-long LED lighting fixtures on each level of each unit, and with a timer, they turn on all the lights during the day and keep them off at night. There is a single irrigation tank, from where water is distributed to all units, and the units are irrigated simultaneously with a timer at certain intervals. For nutrient dosing, they measure pH and EC levels with hand-held probes every morning and add the necessary nutrients manually by calculating them. Continuously running fans provide air circulation inside. There is a temperature-humidity sensor inside, and when the humidity is too high, they manually operate a dehumidifier to control the humidity level. Since the facility insulation is good and the temperature of the building is regulated, the temperature is maintained at room temperature and no additional control is provided.
While 8Farm was growing crops under these conditions, the yield and quality of the harvests varied due to the timer failures or insufficient moisture control, and problems such as leaf blackening, wilting, and non-growth in its products. Considering these problems, the annual average harvest was around 700 kg. Moreover, sometimes their harvested crops were not sold because they were poor in quality. 8Farm needed a solution that could better control the growing conditions in order to increase yield and quality and to harvest consistently.
Farmio is a solution that automates a facility to grow higher quality plants and improve harvest yields with less effort and using fewer resources. Farmio controls the facility’s lighting, irrigation, fertigation, and HVAC equipment more efficiently and eliminates excess usage of light, water, and nutrients to minimize waste. 8Farm has easily integrated Farmio into their facilities using a simple communication device and combined lighting, irrigation, fertilization, and air conditioning devices on a single cloud platform that can be accessed anytime, anywhere with any smart device. In their new system, they are able to control the irrigation times more flexibly, so they can better meet the needs of the plants by watering only when necessary, instead of irrigating at recurring intervals. For automatic nutrient dosing, pH and EC sensors periodically take measurements from the main tank, and according to these measurement results, the system automatically adds the acid regulator and the previously prepared nutrient mixtures to the main irrigation tank in appropriate amounts. For optimum humidity control, the dehumidifier was connected to the temperature and humidity sensors to run automatically when the humidity level starts to rise and stop when the humidity is enough. In addition, the system continuously records the data of all environmental conditions and instantly sends notifications to 8Farm when the values fall outside the desired ranges.
Since 8Farm started using Farmio, they have started to control the environmental conditions more precisely and have noticed that their plants are growing healthier and faster. After switching to Farmio, their harvest quality increased noticeably and became more stable from harvest to harvest. They can now largely avoid leaf blackening and poor growth problems. The harvest cycles were shortened between 15% and 20%, and harvest yields increased by an average of 15%. In this way, they managed to increase the annual amount of salable products by approximately 40% to over 1000 kg.