Shaping Smarter Cities: IIoT Irrigation Monitoring Key to Indoor Agriculture Success

Steven Keeping gained a BEng (Hons.) degree at Brighton University, U.K., before working in the electronics divisions of Eurotherm and BOC for seven years. He then joined Electronic Production magazine and subsequently spent 13 years in senior editorial and publishing roles on electronics manufacturing, test, and design titles including What’s New in Electronics and Australian Electronics Engineering for Trinity Mirror, CMP and RBI in the U.K. and Australia. In 2006, Steven became a freelance journalist specializing in electronics. He is based in Sydney.

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Helping Farmers Make Profits

To justify their high cost compared with conventional farms, CEA installations must produce improved yields which in turn demands precise monitoring and control of irrigation. By using networked wireless IIoT sensors, engineers can design systems that provide real-time data about water use needed as part of a closed-loop control system to maximize yields.

Farmers adopting CEA intend to build a profitable business selling food, not tinker with technology. By using the IIoT to control agricultural processes, CEA business owners can rely on proven technology from electronics vendors and a mature platform (the Internet)—liberating them to concentrate on the business in hand.

While CEA is unlikely to ever replace giant farms growing commodity crops such as wheat or common root vegetables, nor is it suitable for livestock, the technology is ideal for high turnover plants that offer decent margin. Examples include leafy greens, herbs, and even edible flowers. And with a projected global population approaching 10 billion by 2050 (according to United Nations’ projections) any sustainable advances in boosting food yields is sorely welcome.


Originally published in Mouser Electronics’ Bench Talk for Design Engineers” blog. Reprinted with permission.

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