Growers today are looking for greenhouse environmental control systems that save energy, are easy to use, and can be accessed remotely. New products from leading manufacturers are designed to tap into these needs.
Greenhouse Grower asked a few of the companies to talk more about the current needs of their customers, and the new products and technologies they are developing to help growers meet these needs. Here’s what some of them had to say.
Link4 has an advanced line of greenhouse controllers that provides complete monitoring and adjustment of all equipment (heaters, vents, fans, irrigation), regardless of greenhouse size or type. Customized solutions can be created based on each customer’s individual needs. The answers below are provided by Dan Neavitt of Link4.
GG: What are you hearing from your grower customers in terms of what they are looking for in environmental control technology today?
Neavitt: The grower market is still largely divided into two schools — traditional and progressive. The traditional growers continue to focus on time-proven optimum levels of fundamentals, thus reliability of a control system is paramount to their growing operations. The progressive crowd is more willing to experiment with the latest and greatest findings on various elemental factors, thereby elevating the USP (unique selling point) of their crop. They are interested in a feature-rich, highly granular control points system that not only allows data logging/mining for analytics, but also instantaneous remote monitoring and control for offsite management of their grow facilities.
GG: What types of new products and technologies are you developing to address these needs?
Neavitt: Link4 provides solution offerings to both the traditional greenhouse market and the more progressive hydroponic market. Demands for increased visibility into the environmental condition of grow facilities, and the ability to control the condition remotely, are growing rapidly. Link4 products have offered remote visibility from our early days many years ago, but now we are moving more of our control functionalities onto the cloud and offer the level of control and visibility that are not available elsewhere. We are constantly thinking about how to make it easy for growers, and we will continue on this path to harness new and available technologies to accomplish our objectives.
GG: Do you have a new product you’d like to inform the industry about?
Neavitt: Link4 iDoser is the latest addition to the Link4 Controller family of products, which are designed for fertigation control in the hydroponic grow environment. It is offered with the flexibility of controlling three standard (and expandable up to dozens of) peristaltic pumps and has multiple nutrient dosing capability. At the heart of the Link4 iDoser is the battle-proven Link4 1000 series controller that analyzes sensor input from the dosing manifold and dispenses the prescribed nutrients according to preprogrammed parameters. We are shipping various configurations of the iDoser to small- and large-scale grow facilities throughout the U.S. and internationally.
GG: Looking into the future, what do you have planned in terms of new technology and product development?
Neavitt: Growers are always looking to achieve their environmental control objectives without having to learn new skill sets. Coincidently, with the evident global climate change, environmental challenges for agricultural and horticultural industries are ever increasing. All these factors point to sustained and aggressive growth in greenhouse and indoor grow facility demands. We are working closely with many of our business partners in the grow facility industry to serve these increased demands through standardizing and native integration with some key equipment features, and also to expand cloud accessibility to all Link4 Controller product lines.
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