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.
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.
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.