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Vertical Farming for Sustainable Food Production on Earth and Beyond

Vertical farming is a method of producing crops in vertically stacked layers, typically in indoor environments such as warehouses or greenhouses. This innovative agricultural approach offers a number of advantages over traditional farming methods, including higher crop yields per unit of land, more efficient use of resources such as water and energy, and the ability to grow crops in urban areas where space is limited. While vertical farming is currently being explored to increase food production on Earth, it also has applications in space R&D and for food sustainability projects.

In space, where resources such as water, energy, and land are limited, vertical farming can offer a viable solution for producing food. By using vertical stacking of crops, indoor environments, and controlled conditions, vertical farming can potentially overcome challenges such as gravity, atmospheric conditions, and limited space. This could enable sustainable food production for future space missions, space settlements, and colonization efforts.

As the global population continues to grow, and urbanization increases, vertical farming is a promising approach for addressing food scarcity and production challenges on Earth. With most the world’s population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, the need for localized food production close to urban centers becomes more critical. Vertical farming can provide fresh produce year-round, reduce the need for transportation, minimize the use of pesticides, and optimize resource utilization, making it a sustainable and efficient method for urban food production.

Interface sensor technologies and instrumentation are being utilized to expand the capabilities and possibilities in agriculture on Earth and in space. In our new case study, Vertical Farming on Earth and in Space, we explore products and solutions for challenges related to farming on earth and beyond. These solutions utilize load cells, multi-axis sensors, wireless instrumentation and devices for irrigation and growth monitoring systems, robotics, and farming equipment. The case study highlights innovation from a collaboration of industries including agriculture, space, and automation.

 

Vertical Farming Robotic Monitoring

In vertical farming applications, automated mechanics pick up and move the products, thus using less human involvement and contamination. To keep an eye on these automated systems, a wireless force measurement system monitors the robotics that pick up and move the produce to their next destination of the packaging process. Interface suggests installing SPI Low Capacity Platform Scale Load Cells, along with WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge Transmitter Modules in the center of the platforms of the robotic lifting system that move around the produce. The WTS-AM-1E’s wirelessly transmit the data collected from the SPI’s to the WTS-BS-1-HA Wireless Handheld Displays for multiple transmitters, and the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station when connected to a computer. Read more here.

Vertical farming has the potential to revolutionize food production in space and on Earth, addressing the challenges of feeding a growing global population, particularly in urban areas. The intersection of various industries and the use of innovative technologies, including interface force measurement solutions, can play a crucial role in advancing vertical farming as a sustainable solution for future food production in space and on our home planet.

The collaboration between education, space, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors, including the use of interface force measurement solutions, can accelerate the development and deployment of vertical farming technologies for space and Earth. These solutions can provide data on factors such as plant growth, resource usage, and environmental conditions, which can be used to optimize the design and operation of vertical farming systems for maximum sustainability and productivity. Read the case study here.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Inventive Agriculture Monitoring and Weighing Solutions

Aerospace Brochure

Force Sensors Advance Industrial Automation

Solutions to Advance Agriculture Smart Farming and Equipment

Using Multi-Axis Sensors to Bring Robotics to Life

Vertical Farming on Earth and in Space

Inventive Agriculture Monitoring and Weighing Solutions

Interface test and measurement products are ideal for agriculture industry use cases to improve machinery, facilitate planting and harvesting, as well as managing animals. Whether using techniques for single crop or mixed farming, up to commercial agriculture use cases, our solutions are used for sensor-based monitoring and weighing.

Interface standard and custom load cells, torque transducers, and data acquisition systems are ideal for monitoring and weighing agricultural applications. These products can be paired together to measure to ensure efficiency, sustainability, and proper production planning for crop cultivation and animal rearing. Farming and food production is basic to our global existence. How we manage our resources, accessibility and increasing production is highly dependent on invention and innovation that often requires constant monitoring and weighing.

Many of the use cases for Interface products require capabilities to regulate through harsh weather conditions such has humidity and unbearable temperatures while still maintaining a high testing and measurement performance. Here are a few example of how Interface products are used in various agriculture monitoring and weighing applications.

Farming Irrigation Monitoring and Regulation Solution

Advancements in food production has increased the use of vertical farming throughout the world. This type of farming is the production of produce in a vertical manner using smart technology. The system highlighted here is for indoor use, through a transducer monitoring system that is monitoring an irrigation system. A wireless force measurement solution is needed to monitor the water volume for healthy and safe production. For this application, Interface recommended installing four MBI Overload Protected Miniature Beam Load Cells at each corner of the produce trays to measure the water. Interface’s JB104SS 4-Channel Stainless Steel Junction Box is connected to each load cell, and to a WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge Transmitter Module that wirelessly transmits the sum weight to the WTS-BS-1-HA Wireless Handheld Display for multiple transmitters, and the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station when connected a computer. Results can be displayed, logged, and graphed seen in real time for continuous monitoring.

Silo Weighing and Monitoring

Silos are used across the farmlands throughout the world. They help in feed and storage. Technology advances the accuracy in silo management. In this application, a customer wants weigh and monitor the content inside their silos used in crop rotation farming. Seasonality and crop type each have different silo requirements. For this solution, we recommend using Interface’s A4200 or A4600 Zinc Plated Weigh-Check Load Cells, paired with a 1280 Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller. Whether using in a small farm or large commercial use, this type of smart farming solution is able to accurately monitor the amount of content by weight, independent of the type of crop. Another silo solution can be viewed in our Silo Grain Dispensing App Note.

Smart Vertical Farm Monitoring

The use of automated machines and robotics is growing in smart agriculture. This is a strong case to use this type of sensor technology in vertical farming. As machines are used in production, safety and less contamination provide added benefits. A wireless force measurement system is ideal for monitoring the robotics that pick up and move the produce to their next destination of the packaging process. Interface recommended installing SPI Low Capacity Platform Scale Load Cells, along with WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge Transmitter Modules, in the center of the platforms of the robotic lifting system that move around the produce. The WTS-AM-1E’s wirelessly transmit the data collected from the SPI’s to the WTS-BS-1-HA Wireless Handheld Display for multiple transmitters, and the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station for monitoring the performance live.

Livestock Weighing System

For as long as farmers have been rearing animals, the weighing of their livestock has been at the top of farm management. From the days of using simple pencil and paper used in husbandry and farm management, to sophisticated agriculture management software and equipment, the need accurately weighs their livestock is basic farm management. A successful farm will have good measurements in the management of water, shelter, storage, feed, and husbandry. The benefits of an accurate system to do so are essential, whether for small farms or large commercial farming operations. In this application, the farmer group wants to make sure their cows are at a healthy weight and want to maintain their weight. This is also valuable for help to identify optimal time for breeding based on the weight of their livestock. Read more or watch this video to learn more about this type of application.

Interface load cells and torque sensors are used to give precise data results that is reliable and quintessential for various applications in the agricultural field. If you are looking for load cells, instrumentation or need help in designing a custom solution, please contact us.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Solutions to Advance Agriculture Smart Farming and Equipment

Interface Solutions Used in Growing Agriculture Innovation

Weighing Sensor Applications and Innovative Use Cases

The advancements in sensor technologies have expanded the capabilities of how accurate data can improve performance of weighing equipment, tools, machines, components, and products. Design and manufacturing engineers are using precision weight measurements today with higher frequency to improve durability, usability, and reliability.

What has changed in the last decade that has spurred this high demand for weighing sensor technologies? Primarily it is related to the capabilities and features. This includes the ruggedization of load cell form factors to withstand harsh conditions, wireless capabilities to transmit and analyze data for continuous monitoring, smaller sensors like load buttons, ease of use and installation, and submersible options. There is also a growing requirement to design weighing sensors into a product to activate components for real-time user feedback and ensure safety.

Examples of how sensors in weighing applications are supporting innovation are abundant. Manufacturers utilize weight in design, build and supply. Defined weight is used in most product specifications, which requires precise accuracy in measurement. Utilizing precision force sensing solutions and instrumentation allows product engineers and manufacturers of all types to collect data in real time. IoT enabled weighing and scale solutions are frequently used in the modernization of products and industrial automation.

Interface supplies highly accurate and reliable load cells and sensor technologies for weighing and scale solutions. Industry use cases range from medical bag weighing to ice machine weighing. Weighing and scales must be dependable and always provide correct data. Precision sensors are a critical part of this requirement.

Common Weighing Use Cases for Advanced Sensor Technologies

  • Center of gravity testing
  • Inventory management and control
  • Batching and packaging
  • Check weighing
  • Process control
  • Sample testing and material testing
  • Equipment safety monitoring
  • Transportation technologies
  • All types of scales

The abilities to use precision weighing sensor devices in the form of load pins, load shackles, tension links, load beams, miniature load cells, and wireless load cells continues to expand the boundaries beyond what has been known as test and measurement. Facilities and cities use connected force sensing trash receptacles for optimizing schedules of waste management companies to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.  Innovative smart pallet force sensing helps to track products and goods at the dock to reduce expenses and increase productivity. Silo weighing for inventory management. Setpoints are configured to automatically generate purchase orders when product levels fall below a defined threshold.

Additional applications recently featured in Weighing Your Options Webinar demonstrate how Interface weighing solutions support breakthrough use cases and inventive new products. Here are a few examples of these weighing applications.

Tank Weighing and Center of Gravity Using Weighcheck Load Cells

Interface’s customer needs to monitor the amount of material in a tank by weight and locate the center of gravity. The proposed solution is to use Interface’s A4200 Zinc Plated or A4600 Stainless Steel Weighcheck Load Cells, along with Interface instrumentation 1280 Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller. Interface provided a solution that monitors the amount of material by weight in their tank while locating the center of gravity. Watch as Ken Bishop demonstrates the A4200 and A4600 weighcheck load cells  https://youtu.be/G6NA84I73Zo .

Produce Weighing Using Platform Scale Load Cells

A customer owns and operates a fruit packaging plant. They want to weigh the bins full of fruit that are loaded onto conveyor belts that transfer the fruit to other steps of the distribution process. Interface suggests installing SPI Low Capacity Platform Scale Load Cells, along with WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge Transmitter Modules, in the center of the platforms the bins of fruit are loaded on. The WTS-AM-1E’s wirelessly transmit the data collected from the SPI’s to the WTS-BS-1-HA Wireless Handheld Display for multiple transmitters, and the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station when connected to a computer. Results can be graphed, logged, and seen during operation using this system.

Livestock Weighing System Use Sealed Beam Load Cells

A rancher wants to accurately weigh their cows for multiple reasons. They want to make sure their cows are at a healthy weight and want to maintain their weight. But they also want to know the optimal time for breeding based on the weight of their livestock. Interface’s solution is to bolt four SSB Sealed Beam Load Cells at the bottom of a metal platform, that is placed on the inside of the customer’s cattle cage. Once the cow has walked onto the plate, the SSB Sealed Beam Load Cells will measure the force pressure applied. With all four connected to JB104SS Junction Box, which is then connected to the 480 Bidirectional Weight Indicator combined accurate weight results for real-time display.

Crane Weighing Verification Using Wireless Tension Link Load Cells

A customer wants to verify that their crane is strong enough to safely lift a heavy load, at its rated maximum load capacity. A wireless solution helps to avoid long cables and for faster installation time. Interface WTSLTL Lightweight Wireless Tension Link Load Cells can measure the load’s maximum capacity. The WTS-RM1 Wireless Relay Output Receiver Modules also can trigger an alarm that can be set when the maximum capacity of weight/force has been reached. The data is transmitted and can be reviewed with the WTS-BS-1-HS Wireless Handheld Display.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Cranes and Lifting

Garbage Truck On-Board Weighing

CPG Snack Weighing and Packaging Machine

Weighing Your Options Webinar Recap

CPG Veterinary Weighing Scales

CPG Water Bottle Dispensing and Weighing

CPG Water Bottle Dispensing and Weighing App Note