A major US city tasked a farming cooperative with ending a regional food desert, which is an area lacking access to groceries and fresh produce within a certain radius. Rather than trucking in more items, the company decided to build multiple “urban farms” using a hydroponic system. The city had tight regulations on water consumption, which meant they needed a smart farming system that would minimize water usage. They were also given a grant, which meant they had a tight budget compared to larger organizations.
This company approached Sealevel for help, looking for a solution that would reduce their water usage and increase crop yields without driving up costs. They requested a communication system that would remain consistent despite distance or weather and the ability to remotely coordinate their farms.
Key Application Requirements
- Interfaces with reservoir fluid meter and light sensor
- Monitors air pump and submersible water pump
- Custom relay commands and timer
- Cellular connectivity
- Cloud platform
The Sealevel Solution
The Sealevel engineering team employed SeaConnect 370C devices and used a private-labeled version of the SeaCloud IIoT platform. In each of the six locations, a 370C was attached in a central location along the growth tray, connected to multiple sensors. An analog light sensor triggers a customized relay command during periods of inadequate light to turn on extra lights. The analog input fluid meter allows frequent, precise volume measurements in the growth tray, which minimizes water consumption and ensures a healthy hydroponic environment. Along with metering, the system uses two digital inputs to monitor air and water pump functionality. If negative changes are detected, text alerts tell farmers to check in on the system.
With this monitoring system, the farm achieved its goals. Crop yield went up while costs were lowered through minimized water consumption. Their smart farming strategy and non-traditional agricultural practices effectively helped eradicate the food desert. Plans include incorporating multiple devices to increase the smart network within and between locations.