How One Vertical Farm Increased Plant Health and Reduce Lab Costs by 44%

Innovation continues to play an important role in driving efficiency and productivity in the agricultural industry – especially in the vertical farming vertical. While vertical farming has a lot of upside for the environment, there are particular areas in which it finds significant challenges. Being able to balance water quality on the fly is often one of them. This quest to optimize water management and nutrient practices for one US-based vertical farm has led to a partnership with KETOS SHIELD. The results: healthier plants and significantly decreased lab costs. 

Vertical Farm Daily has published a case study to showcase this company’s results. This case study showcases how a real-time water monitoring system can yield impressive harvest results while reducing costs.

The Challenge of Traditional Water Testing

A typical challenge to vertical farming is carefully balancing the nutrient composition in the water. As plant root systems come in direct content with water, it’s essential that nutrients are just right and contaminants are removed before entering the system. 

The vertical farming operation in question faced significant challenges with its conventional nutrient management and fertigation processes. Relying on off-site lab testing for water samples was labor-intensive and costly, with results taking up to 48 hours to arrive – putting crops at risk if certain nutrients or chemicals were in excess. Worse, this turnaround time was even longer for international locations, leading to delayed decision-making and ultimately impacting product quality and yield.

KETOS SHIELD: A Proactive Solution

To gain more control over its operations and enhance the efficiency of its water management, the farm implemented KETOS SHIELD. This innovative solution involved deploying remote monitoring devices at each farm to sample water post-dosing automatically. The system provided real-time insights into over 30 water quality parameters, including critical elements like calcium, nitrates, and orthophosphates.

Unlocking Plant Health and Vitality

With KETOS SHIELD, the farming team could measure plant-available forms of crucial elements like boron, allowing them to fine-tune nutrient dosing and avoid wasteful and unnecessary fertilization. Stable levels of essential parameters were vital in maintaining optimal process control across the entire nutrient management process. As a result, plant health and vitality saw a significant improvement.

Another Bonus: Substantial Cost Savings

The benefits of KETOS SHIELD extend beyond enhanced plant health. By eliminating the need for off-site testing and automating the process, the company achieved a remarkable 44% reduction in lab costs. This cost-saving measure was particularly notable for international locations, where shipping and turnaround times had traditionally driven up expenses.

Proactive Equipment Maintenance

KETOS SHIELD also plays a role in proactive equipment maintenance. Anomalies were detected by continuously monitoring dissolved oxygen (DO) levels to identify potential issues before they escalate. This enables the team to quickly address any problem with the nano bubbler, leading to greater operational efficiency and minimized downtime.

A Global Network View

With KETOS SHIELD’s comprehensive monitoring capabilities, the vertical farming operation gained a valuable global network view of water quality across all their corporate farms. This real-time visibility seamlessly centralizes data – even across countries – to empower farm operations teams, corporate personnel, and R&D departments to consistently monitor nutrient management best practices and adjust approaches while observing patterns over time.

Unlocking Real-Time Water Intelligence with KETOS

At the heart of KETOS’ success lies an award-winning technology that provides a unique approach to real-time water intelligence that conventional systems lack. By delivering critical data to growers’ fingertips, KETOS enables them to make informed decisions swiftly, ensuring optimal crop health and yield. The SHIELD is modular, customizable, and interoperable for easy integration into existing systems, and with a $0-CAPEX approach, organizations can implement KETOS and start monitoring their water quickly without high upfront costs.

To read the full case study, visit Vertical Farm Daily.

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