Tackling the challenges posed by climate change, dwindling resources and the exponential rise in population numbers puts significant pressure on the global farming industry. Advances in technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) allow farmers to engage in science-based agriculture independent of intuition.
Appropriate lighting is essential for any precision indoor farming enterprise, however technology goes a long way in eliminating unpredictability related to climate change and other variables, as well as boosting production efficiency and crop resilience. In agriculture, IoT is more present than ever before and solutions ranging from the installation of sensors to equipment control, remote management and machine learning are available to growers seeking to put IT in the service of farming.
Budapest-based Tungsram Group has carved a niche for itself as a premium European lighting technology brand with a track record spanning more than a century. The mission of the company’s Agritech division is to apply its expertise in the field of LED lighting to serve sustainable plant cultivation in an age when humanity needs more produce grown closer to large urbanized areas. Smart farms are ideal for providing a controlled environment customized to the vegetation needs cultivated inside and the software solutions developed by Tungsram Agritech experts offer wide-ranging support in optimizing plant cultivation. “Our vision is to provide software support for existing and future hardware that helps maximize the output of plant growing establishments,” said Zoltán Sejpes, Director at Tungsram Agritech.
Traditionally, micro-climate and agronomic parameters have been recorded in a mostly manual and inconsistent manner. There’s a limit to what can be measured, and farming practices are executed on a pre-defined, speculation-based schedule. On the other hand, weather changes throughout the day and “invisible” conditions like open doors or early-stage infection constantly influence the indoor cultivation environment and threaten to damage crops.
Seeking to mitigate the impact of risk factors, Tungsram has developed a portfolio of smart solutions focusing on vertical farms. In addition to highly sophisticated lighting designs that include not only dimming but also light spectrum control, Tungsram Agritech’s IT solutions monitor and remotely control the environment and processes of an indoor farm.
A smart container farm system is built on four main pillars: sensors, equipment control (including dosing, irrigation, lighting system, ventilation, spraying controls), remote management as well as analytics and machine learning, said Joseph Vajda, Chief Digital Officer at Tungsram Group.
Sensors installed at the farm gather data on temperature, humidity, PH and CO2 levels, as well as light and water levels and store the collected data. Based on the data, farmers can be alerted to abnormalities and bottlenecks and the need for potential intervention. “For instance, the administration of feedstuff can be controlled in a fully automated manner meaning that the farm can be left without supervision for even a longer period of time,” Sejpes noted, adding that temperature and humidity sensors send a signal when humidity levels are too high and ventilators decrease the humidity while the air handling units ensure that the water can be recycled and not wasted.
The Group is developing remote management solutions on Android and iOS platforms to monitor and verify the operation of equipment controls on a web interface, which also allows users to manage processes remotely, Joseph Vajda noted.
Nowadays Tungsram is working to develop AI and machine learning solutions using the data currently collected by the sensors. In addition to this, the company is in the process of developing special sensors for monitoring specific conditions related to plants and their environment, and currently establishing a smart vertical farm in Hungary to collect and process data and develop machine learning solutions.
As Industry 4.0 ushers in the era of hyperspectral analysis of plant processes, environment sensors monitoring the conditions of the ecosystem and optimal setups based on big data, Tungsram Agritech offers the ability to give the plant what the plant needs.
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