Sci & Tech

Startup Gives Fresh Impetus to Greenhouse Farming

Auto & Tech Desk
Startup Gives Fresh Impetus  to Greenhouse Farming
Startup Gives Fresh Impetus  to Greenhouse Farming

Seedstars World linked up with Iranian partners to select the best startup out of 12 shortlisted companies that pitched their enterprises in front of an expert jury.

The winner of the competition held in Tehran last September was an intelligent system named Smart Been. It picks up humidity, temperature and carbon monoxide levels inside a greenhouse and creates a desired balance for optimum agricultural management.  

Financial Tribune spoke with the brain behind Smart Been, Edwin Baboomian, to see how the product was developed. His 33rd startup and most successful yet has been designed for three types of green houses.

Smart Been has targeted owners of small greenhouses (3,000 square meters), medium greenhouses (100,000 sq. m) as well as hydroponic centers.

A subset of hydroculture, hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrients in water, and not soil.

“For small greenhouses, the product is rather simple,” says the 22-year-old innovator.

“It analyzes the air temperature and soil humidity, and sends the details to an online dashboard.”

According to Baboomian, Smart Been then draws up a schedule and automatically takes control of all other factors, including when to turn the lights on or off.  

In medium-sized greenhouses, a SIM card is inserted into a device that automatically connects to the online dashboard.  

 How the System Works

Inside the greenhouse, the system analyzes temperature, carbon monoxide and humidity levels. As a safety measure, the device also features a motion sensor that will alert you of any suspicious movement or activity inside the greenhouse.

“By determining logic, several variables are controlled. If the greenhouse owner sets the temperature at 25 degrees Celsius, the system will automatically analyze all remaining priorities,” he said.

“This includes the watering system, opening and closing windows or switching the air-conditioning system on and off at preset intervals.”

Turning on air-conditioning is the last step the system takes when the temperature exceeds the recommended level. The wind and temperature sensors, which have been set up outside the greenhouse, will inform if it is safe to open the windows.

The inventor said the windows will first open by 5% if the wind speed is normal and the interior temperature is not too high.

“But if that is not helpful, the windows will further open by 50% and automatically shut after the desired temperature is secured,” he said.

Baboomian stresses that opening and closing the windows at the right time are crucial.

“Opening the greenhouse windows at the wrong time might let in pests that can damage crops, thus when the winds are high, the windows must be closed,” he said.

He further said that if the temperature is abnormally high, the system will contact a service man via SMS for a maintenance checkup.

Watering the plants at the right time is also very important. The soil sensors factor in four variables: soil electrical conductivity, humidity, water EC and pH—potential hydrogen, a scale representing the relative alkalinity. When soil humidity is under 80%, the watering system will be triggered.

“It’s more complicated than just examining soil humidity level, as plants can save water inside their roots,” he said.

“The system is modular. For more specific analytics, greenhouse owners can add more sensors to their system.”

According to the inventor, the installation of the system in a hydroponic greenhouse will save water by 30% and gas or electricity by up to 70%.

 The Business Plan

Out of his fascination for creating things, Baboomian was mostly experimenting with several programs before he joined the Iranian business accelerator Avatech.  

“I love creating things,” he says. “Initially, I had come up with several ideas that incorporated mechanical, hardware and programming ideas.”

Avatech has helped the young inventor take the idea for Smart Been to the next level and create a business.

The accelerator assisted him in commercializing his idea so that it could be presented to large companies.

“Aside from providing a workspace and mentorship, they also taught me about marketing strategies and how to find new customers,” he said.  

Baboomian says currently, Smart Been has eight customers, explaining that one of the first buyers was a small roof-top greenhouse in Turkey.

He plans to continue to work on greenhouses, which are gaining in popularity, as the fate of traditional farming has been sealed by unpredictable weather.

Good crops cannot grow outside greenhouses, since too much or too little precipitation can ruin a harvest.  

“Smart Been’s motto is to combine nature with technology,” Baboomian says. “I plan to find more technological solutions for solving problems.”