“Conventional water monitoring systems don’t have the breadth and depth that we need to protect and preserve water resources. With KETOS, we are changing the paradigm of real-time water intelligence and bringing that data to growers’ fingertips,” says Meena Sankaran, founder, and CEO of KETOS.
Founded in 2015, KETOS has developed a fully integrated, turnkey platform for automated water quality monitoring. KETOS’ patented solutions include the KETOS WAVE system to monitor water efficiency metrics and the KETOS SHIELD to monitor 30+ water quality parameters in real-time, and the KETOS software platform, which processes, aggregates, analyzes all of the data to create a comprehensive data lake that can generate automated reports, historical trending,threshold-based alerts, predictive maintenance warnings and more.
“We want to build a smarter, safer, and more sustainable world. How we make that possible is with the blend of innovation and interdisciplinary technologies in water. From a KETOS philosophy standpoint, we’ve always believed that qualitative and quantitative monitorings are yin and yang – you need both,” explains Meena.
Water monitoring a key component to sustainability
Whereas vertical farming statistics often cite the reduction in water consumption compared to field production, data on water management in vertical farms do not typically go much further. With KETOS’ solutions, growers can actively track everything from their water consumption down to the concentration of specific organic and inorganic nutrients in the water. This, according to Meena, is allowing vertical farms to reduce the number of water purges and more effectively recycle and repurpose water.
“Vertical farms tend to purge significant amounts of water. With KETOS’ SHIELD system, you can understand in real-time what the water composition is and treat it rather than dumping all of the water,” says Meena. “If you were purging 100K gallons every 35 days, then you could be looking at a million gallons of water that could be recycled or repurposed.”
Not only does this generate significant water and fertilizer savings, but the advanced monitoring also allows growers to remain proactive and make nutrient concentration changes quickly and more frequently. This improves product quality and consistency in the long run and can reduce the produce rejection rate, making it easier for vertical farms to become profitable.
The Ketos shield and the app interface
“For the vertical farms signing big deals with Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, etc., the need for consistency in the taste and the quality of the product is paramount. We have clients who have gone from changing their nutrient concentrations once every seven business days without KETOS to 3-4 times per week with KETOS,” says Meena.
KETOS users can also modify the monitored parameters at no additional charge with a simple service visit from the KETOS team to replace the calibration fluids in the KETOS Shield. The baseline for KETOS has always been to empower its operators and shift the traditional behavior of water monitoring from being cost-prohibitive with a high TCO.
Beta testing underway for additional features
According to Meena, KETOS’ solutions are highly customizable, with the exact configuration typically being unique to the customers. For the company’s clients in the mining sector, water monitoring typically focuses on trace and heavy metals. In vertical farming, there is a stronger emphasis on macro- and micronutrients.
Not every client has a full-fledged application platform for their core operations, and among them, some clients still manually take data from their KETOS system and put it in spreadsheets for further analysis of their proprietary recipes or treatment plans.
Seeing this, KETOS has since begun beta testing with additional modules such as a water risk index, nutrient optimality index, and other advanced analytics, which are customized by sub-vertical. These insights with ML and AI, according to Meena, were not easily available prior to KETOS.
“The value that growers are getting is based on the data that we are generating, which does not exist without our system,” says Meena.