Telit Wireless Solutions, the U.S.-based mobile technology arm of Telit Communications, on Wednesday announced the completion of its first “smart farm” system in South Korea. The technology allows farmers to monitor and control cold climate greenhouses remotely via their smartphone, which allows for a reduction in labor, water and energy, according to Telit Wireless.
Following an initial pilot program, Telit’s (Raleigh, N.C., USA) remote M2M wireless control system is now in operation on several working oriental melon farms and will be installed and connected in more than 1,000 oriental melon greenhouses in Seoungju County South Korea in 2012.
Telit initiated the smart farm project in partnership with Disys, a South Korean designer of mobile applications. The company underwent a one-year development phase with SK Telecom (Seoul, South Korea). SK Telecom expects strong demand for this service and is planning to create a separate communication payment system to provide subsidies and lessen installation cost burdens to farmers, says Telit.
With the smart farm system, oriental melon farmers are able to maintain consistent crop temperatures by remotely covering or uncovering their crops inside large, clear vinyl greenhouses at night or during any cold weather. Previously, South Korean farmers were required to manually cover crops which are easily damaged during extreme cold. Seoungju County is the largest oriental melon farming area in South Korea with more than 60,000 greenhouses.
Additional smart farm features are planned, including temperature and humidity sensors that can enhance the growth and health of crops while reducing the amount of water and energy required. Surveillance cameras will also be installed to prevent the theft of crops and provide a visual check of the greenhouses for farmers.
Plans are in the works to provide smart farm systems for other greenhouse crops in South Korea, including watermelons, strawberries and tomatoes, says Telit Wireless.
“The system can be used for various other farm applications as well, such as a security and tracking system for livestock barns in case of foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks,” says Dominikus Hierl, chief marketing officer at Telit Wireless Solutions. “We are currently assessing the global market potential for this system.”