Canadian Greenhouse Conference Features Focus on Technology

Three Sections of Vineland Research CentreThe Canadian Greenhouse Conference kicks off on October 4 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, ON, Canada. This year there is no shortage of presentations devoted to how growers can implement new technology in their greenhouses.

Here’s a brief look at what you can expect at some of these presentations. For complete details on this year’s conference, go to CanadianGreenhouseConference.com.

• Automation of Greenhouse Irrigation Systems
Given the importance of irrigation in greenhouse operation, automation of greenhouse irrigation systems is the focus of many research studies, including one conducted in the Robotics and Automation Department at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. Much of the technology available in the market focuses on either scheduling of irrigation cycles based on fixed intervals, or bombarding growers with myriads of sensory data, which renders even more confusion and complexity. At Vineland, David Gholami focuses on design and implementation of a smart irrigation system that collects and analyzes the sensory data, and provides growers with a meaningful visualization of greenhouse plants’ conditions. It also can assist growers in making decisions as to where and when to irrigate, while providing the option of fully automatic irrigation with little or no human intervention.

• Robotics for Horticulture: Opportunities and Challenges
Automating manual labor tasks holds the promise of easing labor constraints, reducing injuries, and increasing product quality and consistency. Many of the technologies needed to enable this automation are advancing at a rapid pace driven by other industries like automotive, cell phones, and computing. So why don’t we see more robots helping in our operations today? Charles Grinnell of Harvest Automation will explain.

• Newest Automation Technologies and a Look Into the Future
Ad Kranendonk of Flier Systems and Robert Lando of AgriNomix will provide examples of state-of-the-art automation used today in commercial greenhouses and nurseries. These technologies are providing growers with improved plant quality and increased process control, and are paid for through labor savings and labor requirement reductions. What’s next in automation? Kranendonk and Lando will provide their approach to R&D and what drives decisions about future automation development.

• Instrumentation as Tools for Greenhouse Environment Control and Maximizing Crop Productivity
This workshop led by David Llewellyn and Youbin Zheng of the University of Guelph in Ontario will discuss several topics that relate to assessing the plant growing environment under greenhouse and indoor environmental conditions, including:
– Light intensity and quality meters
– Temperature sensors
– Humidity sensors
– Carbon dioxide and ethylene sensors
– Measuring soil and water EC and pH, as well as nutrient concentration
– Dissolved oxygen
– Soil moisture
– Measuring physical properties of growing media, such as bulk density and water holding capacity.

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