Everything you wanted to know about smart greenhouses

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With the increasing population and demand for more and more organic produce, food growth has increased rapidly over the last few years to try and meet the demand. With Mother Nature having her own mind, we can, however, never be sure about what the weather conditions will be. Unexpected storms or droughts can lead to major disasters in the food industry as they can destroy months of work instantly. This means that a lot more of our food is being grown in greenhouses, but this can have a damaging effect on our environment. Luckily, there may just be a solution to the problem…

The problem

Greenhouses are a brilliant way to grow food around the world. Not only can the conditions be controlled down to a T, but they also keep the plants safe with less interference from the elements or creatures, and can be cared for more easily. However, typical greenhouses can be incredibly damaging to the environment as they require a lot of energy to run the heaters, sprinklers, monitoring equipment, etc. which only gets worse at night when there is no sunlight.

The solution

So why not just put solar panels all over the roof? Well, that has been done and did work, but it also blocked a lot of the natural sunlight from entering meaning the plants didn’t get as much as they needed. So Michael Loik, a smart egg and researcher of the environment at the University of California, came up with a solution. He has come up with a solar panel named a LUMO panel that has some clever science behind it. The panels allow sunlight to pass through, which is then turned into red light which helps plants photosynthesize more efficiently. The panels also store the sunlight that can be used as energy to power all the electrics within the greenhouse – a win-win situation! As well as powering itself, the greenhouse panels help keep the correct humidity at all times which saves on water usage.

The practise

Of course, these panels needed to be tested thoroughly before they could be confirmed. Although they sound too good to be true, Michael was ecstatic to announce that the greenhouses had been a success! So far 20 different crops have been tested under the new greenhouses, and the results are in. 80% of all the plant grew just as they would if they were in a conventional greenhouse, and staggeringly the other 20% actually grew better. It is unknown as to why they had increased growth and crop production, but so far there has been nothing negative to report from these ‘smart greenhouses’.

The release

These new ‘smart greenhouses’ are yet to have been released as there is still much more rigorous testing to put them through before they can be proved. However, the technology has so far proved to be much more cost-effective than other solar powered panels, alongside making the greenhouses a lot more environmentally friendly. It is unclear when they will be released to the public, but we sure hope it’s soon as the times of food growth are all set to change.

With climate change becoming a much more recognized issue nowadays, there are plenty of things we can now be doing to help our planet. However, if there is one thing we can’t live without, it’s food. So if there is a way to make as little environmental impact as possible then the release of these ‘smart greenhouses’ can’t come soon enough.

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