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Soil

SOILTECH sensors provide up-to-date harvest data

Ehsan Soltan, the telecom owner of Soltan, has found a way to apply his experience and skills to solving real-life agricultural problems. He developed a wireless self-contained humidity sensor. In the past, farmers had to take soil samples to a laboratory to plan irrigation. Soltan’s idea will make these problems a thing of the past.

He has already tested several sensor options with potato farmers, who helped him test the design of the device and gave him quality feedback & nbsp; connection.
After initial testing on a 3D printer, 50 sensors were produced & nbsp; for five farmers. After the first experiment, they decided to equip the device with an accelerometer and a GPS beacon. This is how the Soiltech sensor evolved into a modern multifunctional device.
It is laid in the ground along with the tubers when planting. Special complex setup or registration of a SIM card is not required. Data is recorded and transferred via the cloud. They can be viewed both on the phone app and on the web platform throughout the growing season. Data is also recorded during harvesting and transporting crops.
Soiltech sensors use LTE CAT-M1 technology, which provides longer range and high throughput. The signal from the device is transmitted through the soil and vegetation using existing cell towers. Other devices requiring adjustment and calibration usually cannot be used until mid-growing, Soiltech starts collecting data from the moment of planting.
Now, in addition to potato fields, the sensor can be used for growing onions, sugar beets, sweet potatoes, alfalfa, perennial grasses for hay, barley, corn, beans, watermelon and cotton. The device can be used to grow a variety of crops over several seasons. Soltan recommends that manufacturers install multiple devices in the same field.
Data-driven technologies are gradually entering the agro-industrial complex. They help farmers reduce costs, increase profits and conserve nature.

 

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Cultivation

Symphony of Salad Studies

Ten years ago, the first container farms began to appear in the United States, where enterprising startups tried to grow salads and other green crops. They began to install containers at the places of harvest consumption so as not to waste time, effort and money on the delivery of goods. The first to go were the unused containers of the Boston port, which, instead of being recycled for scrap, were given a second life in the form of high-tech hydroponic growing facilities. As a matter of fact, the containers themselves, in the aspect of this innovation, fulfilled only the function of a rather strong and usable shell of a living organism of a farm. It is based on autonomous equipment, the work of which is somewhat reminiscent of the device of musical instruments – with their help, the energy of thought is transformed into a symphony. And in this case, we are talking about agricultural masterpieces, where mechanical actions programmed by a person, aimed at growing vegetables, are performed by robotic equipment of the farm. It brings together the best developments in industrial programming, energy conservation, and agricultural innovations. In other words, a new scientific direction is being obtained, which can be conditionally called “salad studies”. After all, it is salads that have become one of the most successful and therefore popular crops on container farms.
It is interesting that similar projects began to appear in Ukraine as well. One of the first was the Smart Oasis Farm startup, which became famous for the invention of the “oasis” with fresh water, in other words, installations that are able to generate drinking water from the air. This development has even been tested in the United Arab Emirates – in Dubai. Now Smart Oasis Farm is setting up the production of container farms. Founder of Smart Oasis Farm Alex Prikhodko and development director Anatoly Kalantaryan shared information on how entrepreneurs manage to do this.

– How did you select equipment for the farm, where did you find information about what it should be?
– For about six months we have deeply analyzed similar projects in America, Australia, the Middle East – what technologies and equipment they use, methods and materials. After that, an understanding came of how and what to apply. By the way, there are not many container farms in Europe so far. After analyzing competitors, an analysis was made of potential partners who are already engaged in such solutions. Negotiations led us to the fact that we decided to build our greenhouse ourselves. For the next six months, we selected and ordered components for creating a prototype of a container greenhouse, made molds and hardware software, placed orders and agreed on parameters. It turned out that the entire internal layout of the greenhouse – nodes and elements, modules and automation – became our author’s development. The lion’s share of the equipment was manufactured in Ukraine, what they could not do from us was purchased in China, as well as the container for the greenhouse itself.

photo 2021 04 09 17 05 14

– Has the greenhouse been commissioned yet?
– Yes. Geographically, it is located in the Cherkasy region. -Plus, now it is possible to place the second and even the third similar box on the first container in order to clearly demonstrate the scaling of the project.
Now we are working on improving the greenhouse hardware. From the fan to each pump in the system, the controls are electronically controlled. Our key task is to drastically reduce water consumption, excluding its losses during evaporation. After all, plant nutrition is carried out by the aeroponic method.

– What was the most difficult thing?
– It was difficult to do this at all stages, there is no one to turn to for advice. But the work carried away. The prospect of the business, the ability to grow a completely ecologically safe product, regardless of the external environment, climatic conditions, as close as possible to the place of its consumption, also inspires.

– What challenges did you face when choosing crops and planting material?
– The cultures that we decided to master in the first place are basil, lettuce, baby bodice. It took a long time to select the optimal variant of the substrate, capable of ideally working with aeroponics technology. We tried both peat and coconut. They also experimented with organic substrates, linen and hemp rugs. Basalt wool came up best of all, since the material does not leave dirt behind, has a high level of absorption, retains moisture for a long time, while being inert to the environment and neutral in structure, that is, it does without oxidation or alkalization.
92693515 156466925837044 3711920477636132864 nIt was easier to choose planting material – we use Rijk Zwaan seeds. We spent some time experimenting looking for an answer to the question of the economic feasibility of using more expensive pelleted seeds and found that these costs are unnecessary in our case. At least, we did not observe an increase in yield when using pelleted seeds. We use GHE products as a fertilizer supplier. At the moment, we are preparing to grow berries and low-growing vegetables. In order to achieve optimal system settings that will speed up the growing process without losing the organoleptic characteristics of the product, sometimes we even deliberately expose the plants to additional risks, for example, we increase the temperature in order to identify critical indicators based on the results. To calculate the economic component, you need to grow the crop, weigh it, and understand what operating costs accompanied the process.

81520124 125147718968965 8550466677228175360 n

– What are the yields, do you have experience in their implementation?
– The average weight of lettuce or basil, which we get from one seat, is from 125 to 150 grams. By using a different type of containers, more spacious and oversized, we plan to increase the number of seats from 1440 to 1900 by increasing the number of tiers from four to five. Consumption of seeds per one seat is 3 pieces. The payback of such a greenhouse on salad and spicy crops at their current market price is 3-4 years.
So far we have not been selling the lettuce that we have grown. We were happy to entertain everyone – friends, guests, employees and all those who help us in launching production.

– How are you going to develop the project?
-“We are preparing to launch mass production of such container farms, which can be combined into large greenhouse complexes, where different crops can be grown at the same time. We are going to sell such boxes and technology.

– And what about the financing?
– The project has a strategic investor who has allocated the current round of financing. At the moment, we are also discussing with him further investments to create an industrial complex capable of providing the production of dozens of container-farms per month.

– What can you say about potential buyers of such farms?
– These are educational institutions that are obliged to provide children with fresh produce, and farmers who are already engaged in this business, but cannot get the predicted harvest, as well as the HoReCa segment …
In fact, we have created an electronic technologist, where all agro-technological maps are already included in the software. It is not necessary to be an agronomist to successfully grow crops in such a container.

– Where do you see great prospects in increasing the number of container farms or converting urban facilities into ecosystems for industrial plant cultivation?
– Both options make sense – both have their advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of re-equipment of existing urban facilities include the availability of communications (water and electricity), partially prepared infrastructure. However, to ensure maximum energy efficiency and due to the specific climatic conditions required for growing plants, the room still needs to be additionally waterproofed and thermally insulated. And also integrate a climate control system into it, which will make it possible to grow crops that need similar climatic requirements.
The advantages of container farms include the absence of the need for capital or repair work, and the readiness to quickly launch such complexes. It is important to note that each greenhouse complex is a closed climate cycle that allows you to grow different crops with a variety of climatic requirements.

– Why, in your opinion, urban farming in Ukraine is not developing very rapidly, when to expect a boom?
– Due to the abundance of natural resource opportunities that Ukraine has. But over time, this segment will begin to develop more rapidly in our country due to economic, logistic and technological factors. Also, this direction carries with it the greening of both production and consumption, which, in turn, also develops and becomes more in demand by people, companies and the state.

photo 2021 04 09 17 05 17

 

 

based on materials from the magazine Vegetables and Fruits

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Fertilizers system

Pig fertilizer from bioreactor in cucumber

made of pig fertilizer using our bioreactor

Together with Wageningen University & Research, Van der Knaap Groep has conducted a test in which they have made use of two different types of mineral nutrients. Karel de Bruijn: “We look at the difference between mineral nutrients and mineral nutrients in which calcium and potassium nitrate is made of pig fertilizer using our bioreactor.

knaap

Ron van der Knaap and Karel de Bruijn

Circular fertilizer
The nitrogen from pig fertilizer will be mineralized and converted to high-quality fertilizer suitable for professional horticulture. Karel: “The bioreactor, which we know from organic nutrients, is again the key to success. There are a few more proceeding steps and the process is more extensive, but it does work very well.”

Nitrogen problems
This manner of working contributes to a solution for nitrogen problems. Karel explains the process: “Because we make the products suitable for the professional horticulture, we help livestock farmers to resolve part of the fertilizer problems. Two industries are brought together.”

The test has been concluded and the WUR is now analyzing the results. At the end of January, the report will be published and the exact results announced.

For more information: /fertilizers-system/
Van der Knaap Groep 
www.vanderknaap.info

vdk@vanderknaap.info   
+31 174 296606 

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Fertilizers system

US: New fertilizer adjuvant presented

new adjuvant that improves fertilizer efficiency, benefiting greenhouse growers’ return on investments in applied nutrient inputs

Verano365® has launched a new adjuvant that improves fertilizer efficiency, benefiting greenhouse growers’ return on investments in applied nutrient inputs.

Evofactor™ uses the company’s proprietary technology, OpusMAX™, to promote nutrient availability to plants when it is used with water-soluble fertilizers as part of a regular fertigation schedule.

Evofactor aims to give growers the choice regarding the outcome that’s most valuable to their operation: either a reduction in the amount of applied fertilizer to yield plants of equitable size and health to what they’re producing today; or, increased biomass in crops that receive the same fertilizer rate they’re using currently. Both outcomes result from Evofactor’s intention to make plant nutrition solutions more readily available through localization. OpusMAX creates supramolecular structures of the active ingredients in fertilizers, ultimately delivering highly concentrated nutrients to the plant.

“Adjuvant Evofactor can meet a grower where they are with increased nutrient assimilation,” said David Coorts, technical director at Verano365. “With more nutrients available to the plant, a grower can expect to see increased biomass with their current fertilization program when Evofactor is introduced. Or, if a grower wants to decrease the amount of fertilizer in their operation, the increased nutrient assimilation will allow for that—letting them reduce the applied fertilizer by a corresponding amount, which could be up to 50 percent.”

“Data from Verano365’s internal testing and third-party trials, with tissue analysis conducted by A&L Laboratories, show that Evofactor results in increased nutrient assimilation in plants. Uptake rates of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium saw a significant uptick in the studies”.

A single case (five gallons) of adjuvant Evofactor could replace up to 750 pounds (30, 25-pounds bags) of water-soluble fertilizer. A single pallet (180 gallons) of Evofactor could replace up to 28,000 pounds (14 pallets) of water-soluble fertilizer, according to David. 

“Horticultural growers in the U.S. spend close to $400 million per year on fertilizers, a large part of a grower’s budget,” said Herbert Rabalais, account director of adjuvant Verano365. “Unfortunately, due to many factors, a significant amount of fertilizer is never assimilated into the plant. Evofactor allows growers to drive more uptake of a fertilizer’s nutrients into the plant, giving them an opportunity to use fertilizers more efficiently, creating a positive impact on a grower’s bottom line and the environment.”

Evofactor is the third product release from the Texas-based start-up in the last 12 months utilizing adjuvant OpusMax to increase the efficacy of horticultural inputs. Evofactor is patent-pending.

For more information: /cultivation/fertilizers-system/
Verano365
Dawn McKenzie
375 Commerce St., Suite #100
Southlake, TX 76092
www.verano365.com

Publication date: Wed 13 Jan 2021

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