Building a sophisticated greenhouse project with the latest technology advancements is one thing. But in order to grow a quality yielding crop inside and turn it into a profitable business-model requires a lot more knowledge, dedication and experience than often anticipated.
This was reason for Israeli greenhouse manufacturer Azrom to kick off an intensive guiding service for their customers. The company explained that they came up with the idea after seeing too many high tech greenhouse projects in upcoming economies fail to become cost-effective businesses.
"We noticed this for example in China, where despite of the fact that lots of investment was spent on sophisticated greenhouse projects along the years, the results were often not satisfactory", Dr. Yaron Drori, Azrom Chief Agronomist explained.
Remote Consultation Center
"A greenhouse equipped with all of the state of the art systems and technology is like a good servant. He will do for you everything you ask, but you have to tell him what to do. In other words, without clear understanding of your plants' needs and precise definition of the systems, a grower will never reach the desired results only by having an intelligence greenhouse. The obvious conclusion is that the greenhouse operator must have Growing Management, Plant Management and Environment Management capabilities."
Sprouted by the question by investors and decision makers, Azrom decided to develop an interface to closely monitor crop enhancement; the Remote Consultation Center. "With this new approach Azrom brings the phrase "greenhouse turnkey project" to a new level."
The Azrom RCC interface is a management tool that provides a greenhouse operator 24/7 growing management solutions. Yuval Gerzon, Manager at Azrom China explains: "Along the years that we are active in China we found that the missing link was know-how."
How RCC works
Azrom agronomists will be present during the first critical start-up of the growing stages to give a few days of hands-on training to the local managers and help to the greenhouse operators to stabilize the systems and set it on the right course. "After we turnover the control to the operators, the RCC mode starts to be active. On a daily basis, Azrom's professional agronomical department will monitor the crop by a remote modem that provides them with access to the data from the greenhouse control systems regarding climate, nutrition and plant situation. Once a day the agronomist contacts the grower to discuss and help him make the right operation decisions. The agronomist can also implement and operate the greenhouse completely by remote control but of course the target is to let the local operator to do it and gain success.
An example for such a project led by the RCC approach, is Azrom's project in Zunyi, which was submitted to the grower in 2016. Azrom supplied a state-of-the-art greenhouse with irrigation, fertilization, artificial light and climate control systems. During the first season, they introduced new varieties of tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, melon and watermelon to the local operator. "By implementing the RCC, we succeeded to keep the temperature and the humidity in appropriate levels for the best cost-effective performance of the plants. Furthermore, by controlling and providing the appropriate nutrition to the plant we managed, together with the local staff, to grow and gain excellent results. The highlight of the fall season was the ability to pick watermelons in late November, thanks to the artificial light system."
It's important to mention that the local operators weren't experienced at all. It was their first time operating a greenhouse and growing vegetables, although the results were well above the expectations. "A continuous flow of data into the RCC, brings to a closer understanding of the plants' needs. The ability of the RCC to zoom in, handle with even the smallest details and implement the changes needed, is what enables us to make the difference between failure and success", Dr. Drori add.
"The capability of controlling the farm computer from a distance, watching all the greenhouse climate and plant nutrition charts, getting and sending data through an e-mail or WeChat, is bringing us a precise picture of the scene in the greenhouse, almost as we were there. All that, to continue and give our clients the best professional service that we can. Our concept is not only to supply the state of the art intelligence greenhouse and leave, but also give to our client the state of the art management tool which is the key for success", Gerzon summarized.