SOLUTION 03 / Cultivation Technology

Smart Greenhouse - a new way of comfortable and reliable farming.

Research Planning Division & Bio Innovation Center, Research & Development Center
Cultivation environment is automatically controlled inside the greenhouse to grow produce. Agricultural management becomes reliable by transforming expertise knowledge into organized intelligence, collecting and utilizing data, and controlling quality as well as delivery date.

ISSUE

The outlook for agricultural management becomes clear by transforming a farmer’s intuition into organized intelligence.

Quality produce through close control of the cultivation environment for plant factories and greenhouse can be achieved through this indoor farming. Although the agricultural industry is a vital part of society which provide food for the people, many farmers face challenges in operating a profitable business due to its difficulty in making a clear forecast. Farming is heavily reliant on the intuition of experts and newcomers are reluctant to make an entry into this line of work.

For this reason, Yanmar started a project to make farming predictable and efficient by using indoor farming called the Smart Greenhouse. This is an innovative project launched in collaboration with companies and their respective expertise to minimize the burden for farm producers and to guide them with steady production and reliable business. The users can automatically control cultivation methods by customizing the growing environment through temperature and humidity levels as well as amount of water, depending on the type of crop and cultivar. This not only helps farm producers new to the industry, but also alleviates their workload and leads to higher yield. By using data, agricultural management becomes more predictable as a business.

SOLUTION

Delivery can be scheduled based on automatically controlling the growth environment and collecting data

Multiple wireless sensors are set up within the Smart Greenhouse. Temperature, humidity, lighting intensity, and carbon dioxide levels are measured through electronic and environmental sensors and data collected are exported to an edge computer. Furthermore, this data is also stored in Cloud. Up until now, a single computer controlled each equipment and multiple environmental conditions were managed individually. Because each equipment was wired, there were limitations on its position and number. However, in a Smart Greenhouse, a single computer can control multiple equipment, minimizing the number of wiring, and all data are automatically collected to the edge computer through a wireless network. There is no need to go back and forth to the greenhouse, since each setting for the cultivating environment to watering the crops are automatically controlled based on a predetermined formula.

Since an entirely new system was implemented, we did not have enough experience during the development phase. We held many discussions to re-evaluate the meaning of added value for our customers through our products and succeeded in newly establishing our efforts. There was also the issue of the development team being experts on IoT and AI, but beginners when it came to agriculture. What kind of crops need which kind of care? This was the type of questions and challenges we managed to solve one at a time, with the cooperation from members of the Bio Innovation Center and other partner companies, who were expertise on plants and agriculture. After repeatedly making an infinite number of prototypes, a successful prototype was finally created for the Smart Greenhouse.

With the test launch of the greenhouse, we started growing tomatoes. We were able to establish our own timing of when the tomatoes became ripe and a system to collect this data. We also developed an algorithm estimating the maturity of the tomato from the several tens of thousands of images collected through the camera. Use of information technology advances with intelligence as data volume increases, allowing temperatures and humidity to be adjusted and delivery to be scheduled with high precision. It also leads to other solutions of improving precision of automatic controls and saving energy. In the future, we hope to install these greenhouses in universities to promote further research on data collection and utilization.

RESULT & FUTURE

Efficiently produce high yield even for new farmers

Smart Greenhouse which can continue to improve efficiency and precision through test production. We have received feedback from farm producers and test farms who have seen the actual greenhouse as something entirely new and interesting. We continue to eliminate unnecessary and labor-intensive procedures for efficiency and optimization, offering advanced countermeasures. An example of such initiative is setting an alert to thin out flowers from the crop so that farm work becomes seamless. At the Bio Innovation Center, research is underway to study ways to grow crops and raise quality of the seedlings. Harvest volume and profitability are also analyzed to increase crop type which are commercially viable. Crop types with high yield which are fit to grow in greenhouses are also evaluated. Cost control for commercialization is also underway. Once in operation, we hope to make frequent updates.

FUTUREHelping to create an enriched future by offering a strong food value chain

The development team explains its effort not just for crop growing in the Smart Greenhouse, but also its initiative to support the transactions surrounding the harvest, such as procurement of seedling and securing the sales channel, which together ensures a marketable harvest. We hope to design a food value chain where a steady agricultural businesses can be managed with security and the consumers can enjoy their abundance, by alleviating the burden from the farm producers and collaborating with other companies.

The various initiatives we take to eliminate unnecessary elements and energy in agriculture, including this development for Smart Greenhouse, is just one piece of the puzzle to create a sustainable future. By working to optimize various aspects of our lives, we hope to create better living for all.