A greenhouse is an enclosed structure inside which plants are grown in a controlled environment.

But plants naturally want to be outside, and that is where they do best. So a good greenhouse creates the best outside environment for plants, inside.

This means it is necessary to understand plant needs and mimicking these conditions in a controlled environment. Typical plant variables that can be controlled in a greenhouse include:

  • Limiting how much sunlight or darkness the plants get, to affect photosynthesis
  • Boosting or ensuring they have enough carbon dioxide by exchanging the air
  • Delivering and supplying oxygenated water to the roots
  • Delivering nutrients either through the media, watering or foliar feeding
  • Warming, by heating or cooling the room, or the root zones
  • Creating wind/ air movement to avoid mold or stimulate plants

Greenhouse environmental control is possible because of equipment such as:

  • Grow lights or light deprivation coverings
  • Air intake shutters, exhaust fans and CO2 burners
  • Evaporative coolers, chillers, foggers and heaters
  • Recirculating fans and roll up ventilation sidewalls
  • Watering or hydroponics systems

Most greenhouse equipment runs automatically, and this controlled environment requires constant monitoring. Typically the following devices are used:

  • Thermometers
  • Hygrometers
  • pH/EC meters
  • Electrical timers
  • Environmental controllers
  • Auto dosers

A typical nutrient quality control system and water chiller are shown below

Handheld or desktop meters are used for monitoring temperature, humidity and water quality. Electrical timers are used for switching devices such as grow lights, pumps, fans and other devices that run on schedule. Environmental controllers normally consists of sensors and relays used to regulate the greenhouse climate for plants by switching one or multiple devices. Typically a good controller will manage the temperature, lighting, humidity and CO2. Auto dosing controllers are used to regulate nutrients, which are then transported to plants using irrigation or hydroponic systems. Increasing the convenience of monitoring and control systems involves using WIFI or cellular modems for sending data over the Internet.

A cross sectional view of a typical greenhouse system and equipment is shown below:

Generally, because of all the different environmental needs of plants, numerous pieces of equipment from different vendors are used in greenhouses for control and monitoring.

The testing devices typically display the measurements on a small LED/LCD display mounted on the device or a computer application. This makes a greenhouse difficult to visualize and analyze in real time as the discrete variables measured don’t give insights into how the different parts of the greenhouse effect or relate to one another. I think this is one of the reasons cash crop greenhouses operations would rather hire physical employees than adopt smart automation – people can make better decisions from discrete variables than the current generation of greenhouse monitoring and control equipment.

An example of greenhouse light deprivation is shown below. It is absolutely dark inside when the door is closed and the covering is in place.

The motors responsible for moving the side walls and curtains are shown below. The same motors are used for movable venting sidewalls and for light deprivation system

V2 Smart Greenhouse Controllers

The v2 based greenhouse controllers address these issues by collecting, analyzing and visualizing multiple environmental data points using multiple sensors in real time.

Typical environmental variables monitored and controlled simultaneously by the controller include:

  • Photosynthetic active radiation
  • Carbon dioxide concentrations
  • Ambient temperature
  • Relative humidity
  • Wind movement
  • Nutrient temperature
  • Water quality – pH, EC(tds), Oxygen, ORP
  • Hydroponic systems, irrigation cycles and drainage lines
  • Nutrient levels and water refilling systems
  • Root zone moisture levels
  • People movement and security

The v2 monitoring system also includes a camera for video streaming and timelapsing photography.

The smart controller uses solid-state relays to turn greenhouse devices ON/OFF based on predetermined times, preset conditions, or AI.

Physical Hardware

V2 controllers are available both as a turnkey solution or DIY kit. A typical entry level greenhouse monitoring and control system originally designed for an aquaponics greenhouse is shown.

This uses WIFI and typically has the following sensors:

  • Light level sensor
  • Humidity sensor
  • Temperature sensor
  • Proximity sensor
  • Water temperature sensor
  • Water flow rate sensor
  • Ultrasonic water level sensor
  • Leak sensor
  • 2 tank level sensors
  • pH sensor
  • USB video camera
  • 4 switched ac outlets for a fish tank pump, refilling water, grow lights and feeding fish

Data Collection

Data from the sensors is collected every 6 seconds, encrypted and securely sent for analysis to backend servers using the application API at https://api.kijanigrows.com . Users can then access their greenhouse environment remotely in real time using mobile applications that visualize data, send alerts and allow remote control of equipment in their greenhouses.

Visualization

The greenhouse data can be visualized in numerous ways, using icons, graphs, graphical animations or spreadsheet reports.

Icons representing common conditions in a greenhouse environment are shown in the application below. The icons change color or change shape depending on the actual values measured in the greenhouse. For example, when it is hot, the temperature icon is red and an alert is sent.

The sensor icons can also be overlayed on a greenhouse sketch to create basic graphic animations as shown below. The dynamic icons then indicate where conditions are physically happening on the actual greenhouse sketch.:

The greenhouse environmental data can also be used for trending historical data and forecasting using graphs as shown below.

 

Alerts

Alerts are used to notify users when conditions are outside preset values or during system failure. Alerts and messages are easy to configure for sensors using the details interface screen as shown.

Alerts are configured for individual sensors and triggered by using setpoints. Exceeding the high or low setpoints will trigger custom alerts. Alerts are sent using twitter by default. Email, voice and text alerts will soon be available based on subscription plans.

Twitter account configurations are added in the device admin screen. A typical example is shown below:

Typical twitter alerts are shown below:

Data Logging

Data is read and remotely logged every 10 seconds and accessible using the API in a JSON data exchange format. Data is currently stored indefinitely. Data in JSON format can retrieved from the API by issuing the url:

  • https://api.kijanigrows.com/v2/device/get/devicename

For publicly accessible devices.

Video Streaming And Timelapsing Photography

The v2 controllers support usb linux cameras. Connecting a linux supported usb camera will automatically start the mjpeg video streamer. The video streams can be accessed locally using the url:

  • http://wifiIpAddress:8080

The devices local IP address can be found at the device details application page.

To view the streams remotely over the internet, one easy way is to use port forwarding on your router. This only works if you have administrator access on the router. In a institution this may be challenging. If time-lapsing is enabled, images are collected every 10 minutes, compressed into daily time-lapse videos and saved on a SD-Card. Eventually these will be archived remotely.

Support/Maintenance Plan

The equipment and system comes with a 90 day guarantee after commissioning. The support plan allows you to extended the full service level beyond this 90 day period. It covers hardware, actuators, sensor damage, calibration, and software upgrades. It also includes a proactive remote monitoring for any greenhouse problem.

Greenhouse Peace Monitoring Service

Another added advantage of a v2 based greenhouse controller is that we run system alerts against user alerts and personally notify users of critical conditions that have not been responded to through our help desk service. This service includes recommending potential solutions. These are opt in services that the users manage respectively.

Greenhouse Controller Prices

smart controllers

lil jim jim – ph big jim –ph,ec

jimmy –ph,ec,co2

unassembled kit

$368.10

$461.10

$521.10

$848.10

assembled system

$488.10

$581.10

$641.10

$968.10

professional

$815.10

$1,402.23

$1,729.23

v2 controller v2 controller v2 controller v2 controller v2 controller
flow switch flow switch flow switch flow switch flow switch
flow rate sensor flow rate sensor flow rate sensor flow rate sensor flow rate sensor
float switches float switches float switches float switches float switches
photocell photocell photocell photocell photocell
humidity (advanced sensor) humidity (basic sensor) humidity (advanced sensor) humidity humidity
ambient temperature ambient temperature ambient temperature ambient temperature ambient temperature
nutrient temperature nutrient temperature nutrient temperature nutrient temperature nutrient temperature
proximity proximity proximity proximity proximity
leak leak leak leak leak
co2

co2
ph

ph ph ph
ec (tds, salinity, specific gravity)

ec ec
oxygen (do, saturation)

orp

relays

4-way 4-way
par

camera

camera camera
enclosure enclosure enclosure enclosure enclosure
software software software software software
data logging data logging data logging data logging data logging
visualization visualization visualization visualization visualization
alerting (twitter) alerting (twitter) alerting (twitter) alerting (twitter) alerting (twitter)
remote control remote control remote control remote control remote control
time-lapsing time-lapsing time-lapsing time-lapsing time-lapsing

http://api.kijanigrows.com/app#/trends/kj_v2_01/http://api.kijanigrows.com/app#/trends/kj_v2_01/http://api.kijanigrows.com/app#/trends/kj_v2_01/

DIY kits require user assembly and configuration.

Turnkey systems are fully assembled and only require a network connection(eg WIFI) and unique user name.

Professional controllers are turnkey systems with industrial grade sensors and devices.