Jeff Neff, Senior Applications Technician at Argus Controls, discusses irrigation techniques and automation, including considerations that can be important when deciding which system to choose advantages of automating this process, as well as key considerations for implementing automated irrigation by using irrigation solutions for controls systems for horticulture, including greenhouse control systems and indoor control systems.
Irrigation is a necessary process for plant growth and, although it can be done manually, automating this process could bring several benefits to growers. As with all types of automation, there are options to choose from, especially while using controlled environmental systems.
A fully computerized control system for horticulture incorporates all features of the simpler systems and adds support for a much wider range of input sensors, crop water use models, and most importantly, efficient irrigation system capacity management. Another approach, before considering a fully computerized controls system, consists of relying on sensors alone. This may not be the best method as they can, on occasion, fail. However, if they are combined with a modeling system, the result is optimal.
Another reason to use an automated system is the ability to include fertigation automation, which a simple solution normally cannot offer. One of the benefits of using an automated system is that it saves on labour costs by eliminating the need for employees to constantly monitor and water plants.
In addition to labour costs, hand watering could also affect the quality of the product. Using an automated system improves how production is controlled. On the other hand, there are certain applications where automated irrigation is not beneficial, such as in conservatories where there is a variety of plants, each with their own needs.
Automating irrigation in a horticultural facility is not an easy task. There are a number of factors to consider when planning and designing your irrigation or fertigation solution. Automating irrigation in a horticultural facility is not an easy task. There are a number of factors to consider when planning and designing your irrigation or fertigation solution.
Argus Controls has developed its own nutrient injection system that can provide anything from a single-tank formulation to many separate fertilizer recipes and feed strengths on the same irrigation system. This is all handled seamlessly by the Argus fertigation management software. Continuous improvement and development of solutions for the horticultural industry are a key and the future of irrigation controls promises more intricate, smarter systems with more sensitive sensors. This nutrient system has proven to be quite successful in diverse horticultural facilities, including when using Cannabis control systems.