System and Software Development Company into Agricultural Sector. Carry out Melon Cultivation Automation with IoT Solution
Daiwa Computer Co., Ltd. Ltd., which develops core software for business use, integrates services, and sells systems, is currently aiming for "i-農業®" (i-Nogyo) (Nogyo=Agriculture) with ICT. The company adopted Contec's CONPROSYS PAC Series into the cutting-edge melon hydroponic cultivation for the next generation agriculture improvement.
Daiwa Computer started i-農業® with the aim of making Japanese agricultural sector strong again by tackling with issues in agricultural sector in Japan, such as successors shortage, the handing down of agricultural technology, and the safety and security of food. The world of information technology is not the only sector that gives consideration to the work-life balance of employees. There are ideas to expand this concept to the real world of agriculture, a primary industry.
The collection of data related to the agricultural business started in August 2008, and by February of the following year, The company built a relationship with Fukuroi City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, the area known for its melons, and subcontracting of melon cultivation began Daiwa Computer has started hydroponic cultivation of melon and tomato, with industry-academia-government cooperation by building strong relationships among local producers, local government, Shizuoka University, and Keio University. They also established a farm management system and a comprehensive environmental control system with NFC tag, a traceability system with IC tag (RFID); moreover, Daiwa Computer takes a part in R&D with Osaka Prefecture University of “plant factory with artificial light” for future agricultural sector.
In addition, in April 2016, the company received the project for "verifying the establishment of leading model agriculture with the cooperation of the agricultural and economic industries" implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and accelerated its efforts to establishing circular agriculture that enables effective use of resources and industrial reuse of melon production areas as a result of melon nutriculture.
Proven melon nutriculture involves placing mineral fiber (rock wool) into a pot as the medium without using soil, and cultivating it while automatically irrigate a nourishing solution according to the amount of sunlight.
Melon nutriculture does not require sterilization of the soil using steam, thereby eliminating the heavy labor of raising and plowing soil. Because the skilled work learned over time is automated, the advanced know-how is inherited with data, enabling the quality management as a famous local area brand, increasing the annual number of times of harvest from four to five, and production by 25%.
Sprinkling that used to be done about twice a day is increased to 20 to 60 times. To automate the number of irrigation processes that will be greatly increased due to nutriculture, Daiwa Computers created and operated its own system on microcomputers by Division Manager Tashiro and other engineers. However, there were issues with the mechanical reliability, and efforts were made to look for a commercialized optimal open system.
"One day, we randomly saw this at an exhibition, and we knew we wanted to use it, then immediately adopted it to our system." (Division Manager Tashiro, Agricultural Development Division) What caught our eye was the Contec real-time control engine CONPROSYS? PAC series.
By implementing this system, we are able to provide appropriate batch control of melon nutriculture in a three-quarters glass house with a large south-facing roof area to improve sunlight transmissivity in seasons with less sunlight, and that progress can be monitored remotely.
In the future, we will use the functions of the CONPROSYS? PAC Series to monitor temperature, humidity, CO2, rainfall, and nourishing solution EC, and use that data to automatically control the irrigation, opening and closing of the skylight, and boiler temperature. In other words, we will be able to achieve the craftsmanship of melon cultivation according to the season and product type while ensuring thorough quality management.
Although the cultivation style of having one fruit on one tree will not be changed in order to maintain its good taste, they are expecting to improve this automation system and produce more melons by reducing spaces between each pot.
Contec control panel and automatic combined nourishing solution tanks
Rock wool with infused nourishing solution
If we can't obtain the various atmospheric data in-house and automate irrigation, there is no need for implementation (prior investment). Initially, At the beginning, we had used our customized microcomputers; however, the moisture created rust, and there were issues with reliability.
We expect to gain prior investment back since we found that this system is able to increase production and profit. We would like to optimize the cultivation management with IoT by analyzing the sensing data on cloud computing.
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