© Seung-Hyun Lee

The smart farm

In Korea’s Smart Farm Inno­va­tion Valley, toma­toes, straw­ber­ries and the like grow almost by them­selves thanks to intel­li­gent tech­nolo­gies. Fan coil units from Dowoo ENE with axial fans from ebm-papst ensure the perfect temper­a­ture.

Light, air, water, heat and soil with plenty of nutri­ents – these are the ingre­di­ents that every plant needs to grow. But for farmers, ensuring perfect condi­tions at all times is a chal­lenge. Some­times there’s no rain, some­times there’s not enough sunlight. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to control all these factors round the clock and adapt them to the needs of the plants? In Gimje, South Korea, that’s exactly what farmers can do. This is where Smart Farm Inno­va­tion Valley is located – a state-owned agri­cul­tural busi­ness with a lot of high-tech.

Opened at the end of 2021, the Valley’s main attrac­tion is its modern green­houses with a total area of nine hectares. Among them are a rental green­house, a training green­house for aspiring farmers and a green­house for research and devel­op­ment. Here, agri­cul­tural scien­tists and compa­nies are working on the agri­cul­ture of the future. They test current inno­va­tions in the field and collect data for in-depth analyses using the latest infor­ma­tion and commu­ni­ca­tion tech­nology (ICT). Special medi­c­inal plants such as traga­canth and licorice are also culti­vated in the green­house.

In the green­houses of the Smart Farm Inno­va­tion Valley, various plant species grow under optimal condi­tions. (Photo | Seung-Hyun Lee)

The right temper­a­ture in the right place

Besides auto­matic irri­ga­tion and fertil­iza­tion systems and addi­tional UV lighting, 430 fan coil units from Dowoo ENE, a Korean manu­fac­turer of air-condi­tioning equip­ment, are used throughout the Valley. These units provide decen­tral­ized temper­a­ture control in many parts of the green­houses to promote the growth of various plant species, and are used to both heat and cool the green­houses.

In addi­tion to suffi­cient light, water and fertil­izer, the temper­a­ture is also ideal thanks to fan coil units from Dowoo ENE. (Photo | Seung-Hyun Lee)

To achieve this, an EC axial fan from ebm-papst draws ambient air into each of the convec­tors. The air then flows over a heat transfer medium, which absorbs or releases heat depending on the setting. A filter then removes dirt and fine dust before the tempered air reaches the plants via a textile hose.

Envi­ron­men­tally friendly heat transfer medium

Fan coil units func­tion simi­larly to conven­tional air condi­tioners. What makes them special, however, is that they don’t use any chem­ical agents as a heat transfer medium. Instead, water is used, which is tempered by a heat pump. This makes the convec­tors very envi­ron­men­tally friendly. And it also means that they are easy to install, main­tain and expand using a non-hazardous fluid such as water.

In addi­tion, Dowoo ENE has perfectly adapted its fan coil units to the require­ments in the green­houses. To achieve this, the company used computer simu­la­tions back in the Smart Farm Inno­va­tion Valley plan­ning phase to deter­mine what would be needed to provide uniform air condi­tioning for a large area. This also led to the choice of fans from ebm-papst. After all, in addi­tion to a high air volume, the main require­ment is compact­ness so that the plants still have enough space to thrive in peace.

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