Finally! Auto-feed for your plants.
But how does it work?
Among GroLab’s many features is the communication between its modules. This feature provides GroLab with the capacity to interact with the plants and with all the surrounding elements.
Soil moisture sensors constantly analyse the amount of water in a range of 0% to 100%. This range is fully configurable, which means we can establish 0% as a real moisture rate of 20% (for example) and 100% as a real rate of 80%.
We recommend using real rates in order to precisely know the percentage of moisture in the substrate. To calibrate the sensors so that they provide us with real values, the following procedure should be followed.
Keep the sensor completely dry and calibrate it to establish a 0% rate.
Next, insert the sensor in a vase and fill it with water until you reach the maximum line indicated by the sensor. Afterwards, calibrate the moisture at 100%.
These simple steps enable knowing precisely the substrate’s real moisture rate.
Insert the sensor in the substrate and that’s it?
It is important to know where to insert the moisture sensors to get the most out of them. There are growers that grow only one species and others growing several different species in the same cultivation area. It can also so happen that only one species is cultivated in the same space but at different vegetative states.
In order not to waste the sensors’ capacities, it is important to differentiate the plants that drink more from those that drink less and create groups. These groups will be controlled with the moisture sensors in order to activate specific irrigations for each of them. Thus, only one sensor will be necessary per group. It does not matter if you have 2 plants or 1000 plants per group since it will be assumed that these plants have the same needs and absorption rates.
Now that we know where to insert the sensors, pay special attention not to place them below or near the drip system. It is recommended that they be placed on the other end, maintaining the stem between the sensor and the drip system. Place the sensor in the middle between the stem of the plant and the rim of the pot. Thus, you will have the correct rates without the danger of flooding. But don’t worry. The flood detector will protect you from any unforeseeable events.
General irrigation or irrigation per area
Now that the sensors are in place, you can activate the same irrigation for all the plants or separate irrigations if you monitor groups of plants with different absorption rates. With one sole water pump, you can control both configurations. If you have only one group of plants with the same needs, connect your pump to your irrigation system (drip, NFT, etc.) and configure it with the GroLab Software to activate it with your sensors’ parameters.
If, on the other hand, you have various groups of plants, you must connect the electrovalves you need to your water pump. Each electrovalve will guide the irrigation for each area or group of plants. You may control up to 4 electrovalves per each TankBot. You can connect 4 TankBots for each GroNode (brain) so that if you have a vast crop you can independently control the irrigation of up to 16 groups of plants.
Next, we will explain how to configure the system with the GroLab Software so that each sensor activates the water pump and the electrovalve for each group of plants.
Configure it and relax?
Now you can!
Once the system has been installed, you can create the alarms you want so that irrigation is triggered according to the moisture rate at which you want to maintain the substrate.
The simplest configuration is the one illustrated in the figure. Only one sensor, controlling one sole group of plants and activating one water pump.
This alarm activates irrigation when the moisture rate drops below 30% and turns off when the rate reaches 70%.
Now, let’s see how to control the irrigation of various groups of plants.
We will create an Alarm with the same features as the one shown above. This time we will not activate the water pump but rather the electrovalve associated to the groups of plants we wish to control. You can configure the desired moisture rates for each group if you have different vegetative states.
Now that the electrovalve opens to allow the water to flow when the sensor so orders, the water should pass through it. The process is rather simple. We will create a second alarm that will activate the water pump if the electrovalve is activated. Thus, we will avoid having synchronization problems between the water pump and the electrovalves that could burn the pump due to having the circuit closed. The same type of Alarm should be created for each valve.
And voilà! You can relax and let the plants choose when to open the electrovalves and activate the irrigation.
In the next tutorial, discover how to automate the water tank so that your plants will always have unlimited resources.