Greenhouses, as we know them, have been widely used across the world for several centuries, and thanks to new technological advancements, they can be utilized to create large food production centers that have the potential to feed billions of people. These 21st-century greenhouses run by rovers and AI may be a far cry from the glass castles of Victorian-era greenhouses, but at their core, they are still a wonder in modern farming.

Advanced greenhouses are growing in number and popularity for food producers, farmers, and scientists alike. Not only are they alternatives to large outdoor farms, but they also are places where scientists and growers can experiment to improve food production efficiency. What differentiates conventional greenhouses from “advanced” ones is the incorporation of AI to monitor and care for crops.

The most common sight in advanced greenhouses is smart grids and rovers linked to a cloud-based system that controls nearly everything within the building. The main advantage behind systems like Katif’s is the ability to optimize yield and quality with very little labor involved. Katif’s AI uses artificial intelligence to develop long-term plans, to simulate different scenarios, and create custom plans for unique regions that will help accomplish these goals. And of course, the grower can easily make changes in the system to adjust to any changes in the greenhouse that may occur.

A good system controls vents, heating, cooling, lighting, CO2, irrigation, the roof (if it is retractable), and monitors pest populations and plant health. A smart grid and rovers like the ones Katif developed help to do all of this, cutting the amount of labor needed to operate a standard greenhouse up to 60%.

Since plants are so fragile, it can be a process to make sure they stay alive from planting to harvest. Setting a rover on a schedule to correctly water multiple crops within the greenhouse makes it easier to take care of them because they are getting precisely the right amount of water at exactly the right time.

Rovers optimize the distribution of sunlight across crops at different types and stages. Sensors within the greenhouse monitor conditions of the plants to ensure they remain healthy through the growing process. When it is time to either prune or harvest vegetation, rovers move the plants to one of Katif’s production facilities.

One of the arguments against innovative farming is the amount of money it takes to invest in a greenhouse. While the initial capital needed seems daunting, incorporating technology such as smart grids and rovers will pay off after just a few seasons. Saving money on labor is the main advantage of advanced greenhouses. The Katif model triples capital equipment costs over vertical farm costs thanks to the rovers, pods, and smart grids they incorporate in their greenhouses.

Adding AI and other smart technology systems to greenhouses help improve accuracy when caring for crops and decreases labor while increasing quantity and yield. It is an investment that will pay itself off in a short amount of time and help growers meet the rising demand for food.[