Collecting and analyzing data are key factors in operating a modern greenhouse. More importantly is having experienced growers who can use this data to deliver maximum crop yields.
As the cost of sensors for controlled environment agriculture become more sophisticated and more affordable, growers have an opportunity to collect a great deal of data about the crops they are producing and the environment in which those crops are grown. With all of this data the question then becomes, how much of this data is going to be collected and how is it going to be used to improve crop production?
Little Leaf Farms in Devens, Mass., began producing leafy greens and herbs in a hydroponic moveable gutter system in 2016. The company, which began with 2.5 acres of glass greenhouses, doubled its size in 2018, and will expand to 10 acres this year.
“We use data across our entire operation,” said Paul Sellew, founder and CEO of Little Leaf Farms. “From growing, sales, food safety and project management, data is integrated throughout our entire organization.
“Through our environmental control system our growers collect a vast amount of data. Sensors in the greenhouse are tied to a number of key climate variables, including temperature, humidity, light and carbon dioxide. We are constantly analyzing this data and then making the necessary adjustments. We are controlling all of these climate variables in a way so that we can optimize plant growth.”