How it works

AiPlantCare is an advance tool for predicting the required natural and supplemental light for various plant species using state-of-the-art simulation models and cloud computing features.

Why is light so important for plants?

Light (particularly natural light) is the most important yet the most undetermined element for parenting a healthy plant. All plants require light for photosynthesis and convert CO2 and water into sugar and O2. Without adequate light plants die.

In general, the vital needs of a plant are light, water, air, nutrients, and proper temperature. While the importance of each of these needs is mostly equal to the plants, sunlight is the most complex factor to control. Generally speaking, people are more confused about light requirement than any other plants requirements.

The complexity lies on the dynamic behavior of the sun which is based on the location (latitude) and varies over the course of a day/season. Besides, the sky condition and cloud cover may easily alter the solar access on the ground. But the good news is that we can predict the amount of available sunlight in your space by using advanced techniques.

From cost saving perspective, energy consumption is 60% of the overall annual operation cost in a greenhouse. About 30% of this fraction is for running the artificial lightings, and the other 30% should be used for air condition systems to mainly remove the overheating caused by the lightings [Dr. Marc Iersel] . This is particularly important for commercial growers when electrical consumption of lighting increases the production cost and CO2 emission. In this case, by predicting the available daily sunlight, more energy-efficient lighting strategies must be applied to provide plants with the optimal level of light (no more, no less).

What is light when it comes to plants?

The source of solar energy for photosynthesis is expressed photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) in μmol/m²∙s. While the PAR radiation approximately corresponds to the visible spectrum (to the human eye 400–700 nm), light absorption by photosynthetic pigments occurs especially in the blue (400–500 nm) and red (600–700 nm) (McCree curve).

Daily Light Integral (DLI) in mol/m².d is recommended by scientist as the best quantum metric which explains the required light for each plant species. DLI is the amount of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) delivered to the plant canopy over 24-hour photoperiod. Providing the required DLI we can ensure the plants growth and optimal crop yield.

To date, researchers have provided worldwide DLI maps to help farmers to select proper plant species or estimate the required electricity for supplemental lighting based on the available sunlight at their location. However, these annual or monthly averaged DLI maps or online DLI calculators are very limited and may only work for farmers in plain fields but not for the indoor growers [Faust, J. 2018].

How the available sunlight is predicted?

For predicting the annual available natural light in an indoor (or semi-indoor) environment, it is necessary to survey the daily and seasonal change of the sun and sky condition in your exact location. In a dense urban neighborhood, the contextual obstructions and surrounding buildings are also importance, since they play a significant role on the sunlight beam reaching to the plants canopy. If the light beam travels through a glazing or bouncing back from a reflecting surface in front of your window, the size and the property of the glazing (window) and opaque objects (transmittance and reflectance ) need to be considered in the calculations.

Using advance climate-based daylighting simulations in Radiance , all the geometrical information of your room and the surrounding buildings with optical properties are built up in a scene. Besides an artificial sky (Perez all-weather sky model ) is modeled for calculations based on the closest available climatic data (TMY) for your location. Typical meteorological year (TMY) includes historical solar radiation for a year-round period based on the recorded hourly values over a very long period (more than 12 years). These data sets are the information when it comes to design your garden orientation, opening size and orientations in room, and making a right decision for growing the right plant and finding the right place for your desired plants.

Even though these physically based lighting simulations techniques have been used for more than three decades in lighting, building industry and horticulture; to date, general users could not benefit from these complicated and expensive simulations. Now, thanks to cloud computing services it is time to make these calculations affordable for everyone without any background in modeling, lighting or design.

How does this tool benefit my business?

Required lighting for plants is a cumulative value (we need to know how much light is delivered to the plant over a day or week). Therefore, it needs continuous measurement for long periods (month, year, …). The quantum sensors are required for measurements which comes with extra costs for calibration, maintenance, and data logging over a long period.

If you are not a commercial grower and just want to parent your plants carefully, here what you get simply. You don’t need to buy any expensive quantum sensor to find out which part of your room or backyard or balcony gets enough direct sunlight. You also get informed if your desired plants can survive dark winter season on the same spot or do you need to move it to another place or provide it supplemental light to makes it happy to bloom. Besides, you get notification if the spot may get too much direct sun and you better activate your shades or just water it more often.

A spatial visualization which shows the distribution of sunlight in an indoor environment and the percentage of the times each spot inside the room needs supplemental lighting or solar protection.

A spatial visualization which shows the distribution of sunlight in an indoor environment and the percentage of the times each spot inside the room needs supplemental lighting or solar protection.

If you are a commercial grower, you know the importance of predicting available natural light and its distribution inside the growing space. You know that this is a very crucial piece of information for estimating the electrical power consumption and shading requirements over a year. Predicting these values will inform you about a profitable crops and leads to a more efficient operating energy management.

The graph below shows the breakdown of total energy consumption in a commercial greenhouse. The percentage of energy for supplemental lighting is significant from 19% to 39% of total energy consumption for a 85.5 m² (920 ft2) growing area in Denver, USA [ref. ]. Our services help you to have a more beneficial plan for your greenhouse and cut part of this energy by applying an adaptive lighting strategy.

What are the right plants for my space?

For various plant species, it is known how much light is required during a day. This is the point at which the process of photosynthesis is active and if the level of light is less, growth is reduced or stopped. Many lighting requirements for individual plant species have been published, but they are scattered throughout the enormous number of scientific literature and too specific to the experimental conditions. There are also some data available on different websites for caring plants. However, in all of these resources required light is expressed only in relative terms, such as high and low light, which is somehow confusing.

Finding the optimal amount of DLI is the fundamental question for having healthy plants. For example, tomatoes require at least 20 mol/m².d. DLI values below this level decline the productivity and DLI values more than 35 mol/m².d are not favorable and may cause excessive heat. Here we offer a complete database for various cultivars (over 200,000 species), which helps you to find the right plant.

If you want to have more alternatives to design, you can select our selected plant catalogues (house-plants, air purifiers, green-wall, edible, and flowering sets) and let our algorithm find the best place in your space for each plant automatically.

Who may find this tool useful?

If you are a plant lover and want to parent your healthy house plants, this is your tool. Have you ever thought what are the right places for my plants? You can do fast and easy what experts have been spending hours to do. You don’t need to learn how to use this and that software and understand all the scientific terms. You will get exactly what you need; whether your plants getting enough light in this place or not?

If you care about your environmental footprint and want to eat organic vegetables from your backyard or rooftop, this is your tool. Have you ever wondered how to predict sunlight in your rooftop, backyard, or balcony? We provide inexpensive services for anyone who wants to see the share on reducing CO2 emission by being part of the urban gardener’s community around the world.

If you are a professional and want to invest for your next season and making decision about the most beneficial plan in your greenhouse or vertical farm, this is your tool. You can model your very detailed space, specify your lighting system, and define spectral light requirements for your particular crops, then we provide you a detailed report. You get information about annual cost estimations for electricity, control of supplemental lighting, and the shading usage for various scenarios through many “What if” evaluations.

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