A Better Watering Can

Schneider Electric - Innovative automated irrigation system cuts costs

(Original Article written by Control Design – link below)

In anticipation of consumer preferences the following spring, a commercial greenhouse owner grows large quantities of those plants. The buyers want bigger flowers, better quality and more variety from their floral purchases. However, to remain profitable, the challenge is to grow a better quality product without increasing costs.

In anticipation of consumer preferences the following spring, a commercial greenhouse owner grows large quantities of those plants. The buyers want bigger flowers, better quality and more variety from their floral purchases (Figure 1). However, to remain profitable, the challenge is to grow a better quality product without increasing costs.
One way to improve quality is to add automation. This also can help to create a better product as consistency improves quality.

In this application, by watering each hanging basket to its required moisture level, the plants are uniformly of better quality, leading to higher sales and less waste. This also reduces production costs due to a more efficient process, which eliminates water waste. Simple monitoring of the process provides data for evaluating plant quality improvements.

Examination of baskets grown using the timed watering method shows that there are often large weight differences between baskets. One test showed basket weights varying 3-6 lb each, indicating a huge difference in soil moisture. After installation of a control system, called Oasis automated watering system, the basket weights even out after just one pass.

Control Dekk is a control engineering firm in Jenison, Michigan. “I’ve spent decades designing irrigation systems that help commercial growers to improve their operations.” In 2014, young entrepreneurial growers and Control Dekk partners Jared and Jordan Dekker wanted to find a better way to water their nursery’s 12,500 hanging plants. The Dekker brothers were seeking an innovative way to use automation technology to solve problems such as increasing costs and inconsistent product quality.

Knowing each basket is going to be watered to exactly the same weight takes a lot of stress off the grower. The grower has the peace of mind that all plants are intelligently watered. Demonstrating the importance of watering consistency has helped us open some eyes and close some sales. Some people have expressed an audible disbelief that inconsistent watering is happening in their greenhouses. It‘s been the same situation everywhere we went.

Read the full Floral Daily article HERE.
Read original Control Design article HERE.

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