3 minutes read

How to turn CO2 into profit with your greenhouse controller

By: Joost Veenman

CO2 is a primary element for a plant to do photosynthesis. If done right, dosing CO2 can drastically increase the production of a crop. But it also can cost a greenhouse company lots of money if done wrong. Even the most experienced growers struggle to set a CO2 dosing strategy that gives them the biggest return on their investment.

Due to an increase of resource prices, many growers feel reluctant to dose liquid CO2. The problem here is that spending money on CO2 dosing does not directly give a higher yield and for most growers it is not clear how much the plant needs throughout the day, and how much losses there are through ventilation. It is often said "Dosing CO2 is like turning air into profit, but if done wrong your profit disappears into air." In this article we will explain you how the Ridder CO2 Optimizer can help you to optimize your CO2 dosing strategy.

Saving money on CO2 dosing a smart move? 

With today’s soaring prices of resources, the effect of more efficient and accurate management will directly pay off.

Since the introduction of the CO2 Optimizer, a lot has changed in the world, prices of natural gas and all other costs have soared. Many growers have been looking to save money from their operational expenses. An obvious choice here for some was to save on dosing CO2 or stop dosing altogether. Of course, it is understandable if you are uncertain of the result. However, from a plant and profit perspective certainly not always the right choice. While the cost of dosing and revenue of production have changed, the principle of photosynthesis has not, there will always be moments the revenue of dosing is going to exceed the cost and vice versa.

Over the past years Ridder has build a smart controller called CO2 Optimizer. This is a software solution that fully automatically can control the dosing strategy based on the plant needs, taking into account the cost of dosing and the potential revenue of additional plant growth. The controller will only dose CO2 if the net result will be large enough. 

Easy setup

Traditional control requires entering up to 12 parameters considering many factors like wind speed, radiation, and available sources. None of these settings is related to the cost and benefit though. Therefore as a grower, you need to understand how the entered settings relate to the effect on the plants and the revenue.   

Setting up a dosing control with the CO2 Optimizer is completely different and much easier. It is as simple as filling in the known price of liquid CO2 and expected prices/revenue for the harvest per week. Based on validated plant models for growth and air exchange calculations the CO2 Optimizer will find the sweet spot for dosing in any given situation throughout the day. No other settings are required the controller takes all factors into account and provides the climate computer with the right CO2 level throughout the day under all given circumstances. As a grower, you now just can focus on your plants and do not have to worry or change setpoints for CO2 control.  

Net results every day

In real-life examples taken from Dutch tomato growers, Ridder has proved its system to beat an average growers' strategy regardless of their experience and efforts. In validated cases, the ROI of the CO2 Optimizer was a matter of days. This is not surprising though if you look at the standard control, when you start including cost and return in real-time this will always give small (or big) room for improvement, in fact for each moment in the day and each condition there is just one optimal CO2 dosing level. Automating the system will improve control continuously, and this leads to a continuous net result, adding up to hundreds of euros every day if you have a large-scale greenhouse. 

International result 

CO2 Optimizer doesn’t just apply to high-end greenhouses, in fact, in southern countries where liquid CO2 is the only available source and prices are high, this tool can be even more valuable. Moreover, the CO2 Optimizer helps inexperienced growers get the most out of their greenhouse.

Real-time dashboard 

To show what the CO2 Optimizer calculates it comes with a real-time dashboard. This dashboard shows all important metrics like the actual assimilation rate and what the optimal dosing strategy is. To put it simply, it shows how much money you add to your revenue that day. The CO2 Optimizer also shows the air exchange rate and amount of CO2 lost through ventilation. The dashboard provided insight into how everything is running and how the CO2 Optimizer is choosing the best strategy for you.

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A stable climate in your greenhouses determines everything; from rapid crop growth, and optimal yields, to the use of resources and raw materials. Request a quick scan now and discuss your specific situation with our process automation and climate experts. You can expect advice on how to get the most out of your greenhouse and how a climate computer and smart software and settings can help you do this. 

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