OPTILIGHT: Accelerating the arrival of real-time, automated light type monitoring and optimal control in commercial horticulture production*Corresponding Author:
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Solar irradiation is the most important input triggering photosynthesis in plants, i.e. the process that primary drives their growth and quality. It has been widely demonstrated that diffuse irradiation, in particular, plays a substantial role for crop photosynthesis enhancement as well as for production improvement, for it creates a more homogeneous light profile in canopies, avoids photo-damage, and overall leads to a more efficient use of light by crops.
Despite the scientifically proven relevance of diffuse sunlight for crop photosynthesis enhancement, commercial light sensing technologies do not allow for the implementation of an effective and affordable automated control of shadings systems in precision horticultural practices.
For this reason, the shading process and, therefore, the production are not optimized.
To fill this gap, Alitec has developed a system gathering information about the type of sunlight available in greenhouses under continuously changing irradiation conditions, and of providing real-time input for controlling shading nets. The system represents an innovation to the extent that it makes available, affordable, and easy to implement the monitoring of the type of sunlight available to crops. Such step-forward in the precision agriculture domain is enabled by the CIS sensor, key component of the system: it is a dramatically innovative device capable of performing a full irradiation assessment broken into all components (direct and diffuse) of sunlight.
By making solar irradiation monitoring affordable & easy to implement, the CIS sensor allows for the uptake of real-time light type control systems in precision agriculture applications.
The proposed system features the CIS sensor mounted on two low cost, self-powered modules providing power, networking and wireless communication capacity to the sensors, along with the potential to complement the sunlight observation with a variety of other environmental parameters (temperature, wind, humidity, soil moisture, leaf wetness).