Indoor Ag-Con 2023 Exhibitor HP Now (Booth 204) shares: Growers care for their crops by providing them with all they need: light, nutrients, water, and the right growing conditions. Ironically, the system they are using to provide plants with water and nutrients may also double as a vehicle for unwanted guests in the form of pathogens such as Pythium, Phytophthora, and other fungi and bacteria which can damage crops and raise food safety concerns.
This host of organisms is usually present in irrigation water in small amounts, but tends to proliferate in the water system in the form of biofilm. Biofilm is not only a hotbed for pathogen infestation, but it also has a strong negative impact on irrigation uniformity as it blocks emitters.
With two idea-packed days of education, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds and inspirational thought leaders in the field of agriculture.
Education is offered in a variety of formats including keynotes, insightful panel sessions and new fireside chats. The program is designed to enhance your career and grow your business in new ways.
2. Expansive vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture marketplace
Explore the latest innovations from the largest number of exhibitors in Indoor Ag-Con’s 10-year history. Inside the exhibit hall, you’ll find state-of-the art products and services from the top suppliers. From irrigation and LED lighting, to environmental control systems, substrates, greenhouse equipment, energy solutions, business services, and more!
The Indoor Ag-Con Expo Floor is open on Monday, February 27 from 12:00 pm – 6:30 pm PST and Tuesday, February 28 from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm PST.
3. Connect with industry professionals from across the country
At Indoor Ag-Con, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and expand your network like never before. This includes growers, top suppliers, distributors, investors, start-ups, and educators.
Indoor Ag-Con will once again co-locate with the National Grocers Association (NGA) for even more networking and business opportunities.
4. Experience the 10-Year anniversary of Indoor Ag-Con
We’re a decade strong and continuing to grow! And now is the perfect time to be part of our growth and immerse yourself in the future of farming. This year will feature more exhibits than ever, three education tracks to keep you up-to-date on best practices, and exclusive opportunities to network.
More than a conference, Indoor Ag-Con is the place for business connections, ideas, AND it’s the marketplace for technology trends and product innovation.
It sure was easy in the olden days if you produced only a handful of plants in your home. It was all manageable by hand and required only manual labor of love. However, expanding to grow commercially today requires thought, strategy, and most importantly, advanced automated technology to grow consistent premium crops and high yields. All are still produced with love but much more efficiently, consistently, and cost-effectively returning better crops and maximum profit. Indoor cultivation is an art. Adding automation is a scientific art backed by plant data.
When you think of automation, are you thinking no humans will be involved?
That’s not true at all; with automation, you’re eliminating the potential of human error in your indoor cultivation process. You’re taking out the inconsistency of hand watering and nutrient application—the manual management of lighting, humidity, CO2, and HVAC. You gain a more comprehensive view of your whole grow operations.
Commercial growers aim for consistency in their crop. The only way to repeat this turn after turn is with automated technology. Allowing growers to dial in their grow cycle with complete control of water and nutrient feed and precise environmental controls to maintain that profile, crop production and quality. Adding automation brings a considerable leap of innovation to your grow operations.
Rivulis has been at the forefront of helping farmers grow for the past 55 years with advanced drip and micro-irrigation technologyand is bringing it indoors, assisting indoor growers indriving consistency and growth for higher yields and premium quality crops.
We offer the most comprehensive product portfolio in the industry with an extensive line of irrigation solutions and end-to-end automation projects for any crop in any climate. Our business is to help you grow bigger, better, and beyond. And we have been perfecting it for over five decades. Our expertise and automation technology can help YOU take your grow to the next level.
Amplify your grow power with Rivulis
Rivulis is the new standard in the industry that will help you push your grow into uncharted territory for premium crop and yield. The Rivulis C8100 precision fertigation system takes the guesswork out of your irrigation and feed programs with a user-friendly controller interface. Growers can easily program customized irrigation and nutrient feed schedules based on the plant’s needs. Giving them the exact amount of water and nutrients needed every time. The system comes with an EC/PH controls, so you can quickly and easily manage nutrient imbalances.
Taking your grow to the next level requires control of the growing environment. The C8100 system base model comes standard with the C4100 Irrigation Controller to manage your irrigation and fertigation needs. Add the C4100 Climate Controller for more control. The C4100 Climate is totally modular and works fantastically well with one, two, four up to an unlimited number of zones. Together, this platform is a powerful system to intelligently manage your indoor commercial grow, from lights, HVAC, CO2, temp/humidity control, and ventilation, all the way to the roots, with custom irrigation and feed programs.
Ready to take your grow to the next level? Visit us at the Indoor Ag-Con and talk to our experts about how to amplify your cultivation power. Find more information at www.rivulis.com.
The United Nations estimates that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed countries. With roughly 70% of the freshwater around the world being used for agriculture — a number that could climb to 90% in developing countries by 2030 — the need for efficient water management and sustainable irrigation is at a critical point.
Sustainable irrigation is defined as, “the rational practice of all activities related with the irrigation of plants, whether in the areas of horticulture, landscape, and ornamentals so that it helps to satisfy the respective survival and welfare needs of the present without compromising those of future generations.”
It considers the impacts of manufacturing and transportation of required equipment and materials, as well as incurred discharges and waste impacts. For traditional horticulture and commercial agriculture, irrigation is a necessary process for plant growth and, although it can be done manually, automating this process could bring several benefits to growers.
Improving irrigation efficiency can contribute greatly to reducing production costs, making the industry more competitive and ultimately sustainable. Through proper irrigation, average yields can be maintained (or increased) while minimizing environmental impacts caused by excess applied water and subsequent agrichemical leaching.
Fertigation as a Bridge to Sustainability
Fertigation is the process of delivering nutrients and water to a plant through automated irrigation. The goal is to not only produce a crop with higher yields, but to also run a more streamlined and sustainable operation. An automated system eliminates the need for constant monitoring and watering of plants and therefore will reduce overall workforce demands. Automation will also allow for consistency in quality that hand-watering cannot.
There are two common methods of delivering fertilizers through an irrigation system for sustainable production: dilute tank control and in-line injection.
Whether you select dilute tank feeding or an in-line injection system, there is a range of options for automating the nutrient dosing process. While automated dosing systems offer many management, productivity, and sustainability features (including reduced fertilizer and water runoff and better crop quality), they tend to be more complex and cost-prohibitive.
Consider a dilute tank control system when:
The whole crop can be administered with a single feed solution.
The dilute feed composition and strength (EC) do not change often.
The pH of water does not need frequent adjustment.
Consider an in-line injection system when:
Irrigation scheduling and nutrient dosing are integrated.
Supplying more than one nutrient formulation on the same irrigation system (different crop requirements).
The ability is needed to vary the feeding strength (EC) without having to prepare new stock solutions.
Some automated environmental control systems only manage the nutrient dosing equipment, while other horticulture nutrient systems can integrate irrigation scheduling with nutrient dosing activities. An automated fertigation system can be integrated with the facility’s environmental control system where it can be monitored and managed from a centralized user interface along with all other controlled processes within the grow operation.
Fertigation equipment and systems vary with each application and should be capable of adapting to the design and operation of the overall facility. This may include controls and monitoring for:
Acid/base dosing equipment
Soil moisture levels
Leaching rates (over drain)
Nutrient dosing equipment
Irrigation zone valves
Water treatment equipment (filters, pasteurizers, ozone, UV, etc.)
There are several factors to consider when planning, designing, and automating an irrigation or fertigation solution in a horticultural facility. Planning for sustainability will result in more efficient use of available resources allowing for long-term viability and success.
As the horticulture industry continues to evolve, so do sustainability solutions like greenhouse automation systems. The future of irrigation controls promises more intricate, intuitive systems with advanced sensors to support more sustainable practices.
Experienced nursery technicians know they can’t water a native perennial at the same rate and frequency as an evergreen or shrub. That’s why the average pop-up lawn sprinkler wouldn’t work in a professional growing environment. Managers at Midwest Groundcovers, LLC understood this. But, they quickly realized that irrigation suppliers are not always on the same page.
The company’s switch in 2016 to an automated irrigation system customized for a nursery environment has enabled efficiencies that they couldn’t achieve with a previous system designed for golf courses. A precise, easily programmable system is critical for this wholesale grower of nursery stock, including native plants, shrubs, evergreens, perennials and groundcovers, as it continues to expand.
Today, workers can focus on the plants instead of managing irrigation controllers thanks to the implementation of an automated system from Argus Controls. “It allows the grower to scout the plants more instead of trying to run all over the nursery opening and closing valves,” says Mike Krueger, Midwest Groundcover’s nursery manager at the Virgil location.
Stuck in the Sand Trap
Early experiences with automation systems don’t always go as planned. Whether it’s a factory or a greenhouse, initial deployments of “smart” technologies are either a boon to business operations or an exercise in frustration.
For Midwest Groundcovers, it was the latter. The company struggled early on with an automated irrigation system at its Virgil production nursery, which opened in 2001. It was an unwieldy system that was difficult to program and manage, says Matthew Fredrickson, the company’s production manager.
“The irrigation system was programmed for a golf course,” Fredrickson recalls. “You would set it, walk away, and everything is watering the same. “What the system designers and engineers couldn’t understand is that we’re a nursery producing plants that are growing, and their need for water is changing throughout the season.”
What the company needed was a system that was easier to program to accommodate the unique needs of different types of plants.
In 2013, Midwest Groundcovers found a solution from Argus Controls that met its requirements. The Midwest team was embarking on a 30-acre outdoor expansion, called the Thomsen Growing Center, at its Virgil location to grow containerized shrubs.
The Argus system doesn’t require IT or automation expertise to program, Krueger says. The design made more sense for a grower, with zones and schedules customized for different planting sections. The management team also wanted irrigation controls that could work seamlessly with existing technologies, including the company’s customized fertigation system.
“They made sure the Argus system could talk to those injectors and that the programming was simple enough for a grower to use the system,” Krueger says. “Argus didn’t force us to buy their equipment. They worked around what we had.”
That was important because Midwest Groundcovers had already invested a considerable amount of money into its existing fertilization system, according to Krueger. Starting over with new fertilization injectors would have been costly. The system was up and running in time for the 2016 season.
Fully Automated Future
The company was impressed enough with the Argus irrigation system to begin switching its automated controls to Argus, as well. In 2019, the company switched a portion of its environmental controls in its Virgil nursery greenhouse expansion to the Argus system.
By the end of 2021, the company will extend the automated control system to two growing centers, including a new one that’s under construction, and half of its greenhouses. Midswest Groundcovers’ goal in the future is to expand Argus to the rest of the existing growing centers in Virgil, so the Virgil nursery is standardized with one system. Moving forward, the company will include the Argus system in the design of any new greenhouses or growing shelters, Krueger says.
“We’re really satisfied with Argus,” he says. “We have tried and used several different systems for environmental controls, but we want to standardize the nursery. We like the Argus system and how it works, so for us it made sense for us to continue on that path.”
See what’s new from Argus Controls at the October 4-5, 2021 edition of Indoor Ag-Con and learn more by visiting the company’s website — www.arguscontrols.com
Argus Controls Seeding Knowledge video discusses irrigation techniques and the advantages of automating this process. In the video Jeff Neff, Senior Applications Technician at Argus Controls,discusses considerations that can be important when deciding which system to choose. He also covers advantages of automating this process. Other topics include 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. While 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.
Computerized Control System for Horticulture
A fully computerized control system for horticulture incorporates all features of the simpler systems. It also 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 labor costs by eliminating the need for employees to constantly monitor and water plants.
In addition to labor costs, hand watering could also affect the quality of the product. Using an automated system improves how production is controlled.
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.
Factors To Consider
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.