Whether outside in the fields, or inside in modern growth facilities, it hasn’t always been easy to design, engineer, implement, instrument and scale connected agtech sytems given the diversity of conditions, crops, and skill sets.
No solid, sustainable and affordable IoT-based solution in the agriculture and horticulture domain is truly possible without an ecosystem: this is a team sport!
Too often, project failure stems from less-than-tight integrations between providers of hardware, software, firmware and middleware. Teams who spend time getting “full-stack” solutions right from the start, and have a deeply automated and easy to use offering, are at a competitive advantage.
It’s a new year and one of the most interesting announcements we’ve seen cross our editor’s desk so far was issued by three partnering companies.
- Veea is a pioneer in integrated smart edge connectivity, computing and security technologies for edge and cloud.
- Trilogy Networks is provider of an Edge Delivery Platform with a focus on rural and agricultural solutions.
- Microclimates is an emerging company that specializes in all phases of data gathering and process control for climate-controlled environments.
The companies came out of stealth, after a year of integrations, testing, collective R&D, and initial implementations, saying their partnered solution is now GA, while highlighting a successful deployment in Ohio, in multiple locations and in the greenhouses of Hurst Farms and Greenery. This large, charming and generationally owned and operated family business, headquartered in Westboro, Missouri, operates 30 greenhouses, comprising 130,000 square feet under cultivation. Hurst also operates over 1,000 acres of corn and soybean crops.
“Trilogy brought us a complete greenhouse automation solution, integrating Veea’s edge and cloud computing and orchestration capabilities, and Microclimate’s software and sensors system fully integrated, which simplified the initial implementation and ongoing monitoring and management,” said Blake Hurst, the current generation of leadership at Hurst. “We quickly recognized savings and are now scaling up given the benefits – healthier plants, increased revenue, energy and water cost savings, and productivity gains given the automation and ability to remotely monitor and control all our greenhouses.”
Trilogy Networks gives enterprises a new way to collect, compute, transport and protect data at the edge to improve operational efficiency and lower costs, while Veea provides a unified computing and communications fabric that enables any cloud to any endpoint and device at the edge.
Microclimates comes in with an affordable, scalable universal control system that monitors temperature, humidity, CO2, watering and ambient light, which can include hundreds of sensors, with 24/7 monitoring and alerts.
Before the advent of precision cultivation solutions, operators struggled with no uniform temperature measurement, no real-time information, and significant and rapidly risings costs to heat greenhouses during winter.
Humidity has been another significant challenge; with no ability to uniformly and consistently measure humidity, it has been extremely difficult to maintain humidity in a range that maximizes plant growth.
With Trilogy’s FarmGrid solution, enabled by Veea and enhanced by Microclimates, operators of indoor cultivation and farming, especially for high-value crops, benefit from private enterprise wireless connectivity (including 5G), wireless controllers that can be programmed to turn heaters and vents off and on, based on rules, and readings from temperature sensors which instrument greenhouse environments and feed autonomous systems.
Microclimate’s technology brings in a dashboard which gives users full control and allows them to set rules.
The Veea Platform, including indoor VHE-10 and outdoor VHH-10 VeeaHub models, provides farm-wide secure and meshed Wi-Fi and multi-protocol (Bluetooth, Zigbee, & LoRa) IoT connectivity, which facilitates the collection of temperature and humidity data within the Greenhouses and provides the data to the Microclimates edge controller platform.
“Working together with the teams at Hurst Greenery, Veea and Microclimates has been a tremendous experience,” said Venky Swaminathan, co-founder and CTO at Trilogy. “Converging wireless connectivity, cloud capability, device interactivity and data security into a digital experience is a team sport, and we couldn’t have had a better team in place to imagine, engineer, deploy and scale this proven system. We look forward to supporting this generational, family business for years and decades to come, delivering long-term value through better business outcomes.”
“Veea is honored to have contributed to this revolutionary solution,” said Mark Tubinis, Chief Commercial Officer, Veea. “Together, we are unlocking significant, sustainable value through the digital transformation of greenhouse operations which is impacting the ability for businesses like Hurst Greenery to improve yields, assure quality, and operate profitably. With precision horticulture solutions, and with real time data leveraged along with automation to ensure predictable growth, farmers can do more for less, and grow their businesses even as they grow premium plants and produce. We look forward to partnering with this extraordinary assembly of companies to further advance the precision horticulture and agriculture industries.”
“Our platform is ideal for this scenario,” said Neda Vaseghi, CEO at Microclimates. “With modular and open software and sensor applications, we instrument the environmental automation for everything from lighting to irrigation, nutrient dosing, predictive alerting, and data-driven solutions. Given the global need for food security and safety, and the increasing importance of indoor farming, especially in the regions hardest-hit by climate change including droughts, floods, wildfires and more, this team has built and proven a repeatable solution that can make a world of difference in the years to come.”
According to a 2022 market research report by MarketsandMarkets, the precision farming market is expected to grow from $8.5 billion in 2022 to $15.6 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 7.9%.
Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.
Edited by Erik Linask