One of the challenges farmers face in a soil-free environment is ensuring that plants are getting proper nutrient balance. In these types of operations, water recycling and water management are essential.
For soilless agriculture, water reclamation and water reuse help reduce the overall water footprint. However, the reuse process is complex. There are fertigation and UV radiation systems that can remove pathogens but need to be handled in a highly consistent manner to ensure crop health. In these operations, reliable water monitoring is key to ensuring pathogens do not affect the yield or contaminate the water supply.
Solutions tackling water reuse often bifurcate. There may be elements of solutions that help track one thing but not another. It is essential to leverage solutions (like KETOS) that can track multiple parameters, integrate with disparate systems, and provide a holistic view of water quality and usage.
One of the great benefits of controlled environment operations and vertical farming operations is that water can easily be reclaimed and recycled within the environment itself. This allows for a significant reduction in water use compared to traditional open field operations that are often water-intensive. It is also critical to understand what a crop needs in terms of nutrients at any given time and efficiently deliver those nutrients directly into a plant’s root system.
Several trends could accelerate the potential and popularity of controlled environment agriculture. The fact that its capabilities are being mainstreamed in conversations and discourse is creating interest and growth as communities around the world seek solutions that provide for resource efficiency.
As water efficiencies become a requirement for a business’s bottom line, and as communities push for healthier alternatives and a more stable food supply chain, technology and more ingenious ways of growing food will continue to grow in importance and popularity. If companies can help farmers grow food more efficiently and reduce the cost of doing business, it won’t just benefit the industry, it will benefit the environment and the end consumer as well.
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