Building a Fully Automated, Self Sustainable, Solar, Hydroponic, Micro Urban Farm - The Grid - Part 3 ๐Ÿ”Œ๐Ÿ’ง๐Ÿ’ก

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Hello Steemians,

In my previous post I have shared how after a few intense weeks of work we have finally finished with renovating this old neglected structure to eventually build a micro hydroponic urban farm, that will be fully automated and be as self sustainable as possible.

If you missed out on the previous posts in this series make sure to check them out:

Building a Fully Automated, Self Sustainable, Solar, Hydroponic, Micro Urban Farm - The Outside - Part 1 ๐ŸŒฟโ™ป๐ŸŽ

Building a Fully Automated, Self Sustainable, Solar, Hydroponic, Micro Urban Farm - The Inside - Part 2 ๐Ÿ†โš’๐Ÿšž

There are quite a few challenges in that, especially with regards to water and electricity.

Being a very dry country, relying on the rain for self sustainability with water, will be a fruitless attempt, and although we just had some crazy hail storm the other day, most of the year is dry as a desert.

We do have very high humidity though, so that's why I plan at certain point to try to build a dew collector such as this, in order to supply my reservoirs with as much additional water as needed by the plants daily and hopefully allow us to eventually disconnect from the municipal water supply.

But for now, in order to progress with our plans, we decided to start with the municipal water and upgrade from that, the bright side is that we get an agricultural rate on our water and that keeps the price fairy low.

Same goes for electricity...the plan as mentioned in the previous parts of this post series, is to connect the whole building to a solar panels array and a few batteries, in order to provide all the equipment the necessary power in order to fertilize and water all the hydroponic systems that we going to install in the place.

But as a solar system is running on DC power, and most of the equipment we currently have (water, air pumps, controllers, lights, etc..) is running on AC, we going to need to add some energy thirsty inverters.
All that makes it quite an expensive endeavor and even a small 2000-3000 watt system will cost way more than my current budget.

So the plan is to gradually convert all the equipment to DC power and therefore save a ton of used energy in the processโ€ฆbut meanwhile, to get the things going we decided to provide a temporary backup and connect it to the grid as well.

This will give us time to properly prepare for the solar system, yet start with our growing plans.

So after ordering a few 12v pumps from aliexpress we have proceeded to lay out the cables.

We used a 4 cores insulated electrical cables to pull the electricity from the main distribution board.





As the whole place is quite neglected, we had to pull the cable trough some obstacles...













but after a few hours of climbing, pulling and tying stuff, we finally got it where we wanted it, in our own relay box, right inside the little service room we build that will eventually store our water reservoirs.





We use a 40 AMP relay for the main line, and additional four 16 AMP relays for all the outlets, lights, air conditioning and so ownโ€ฆ

For now this will allow us to start plugging our equipment right away, and hopefully with time will serve as a backup power only.

The light were hanged right after that, we used the cables we made sure to prepare under the fabric, and our 40 watt LED lights were ready to light up the room.









As mentioned previously this place will partly be used for teaching people how to grow with hydroponics, so there will be quite a few people visiting this place on a daily basis.
So in order to provide those visitors with a comfortable place to sit, we decided to dedicate one of the corners for exactly that reason.

We decided to use the corner close to the service room , as that black wall really made it look very comfy.

So we bought couple of second hand couches that seemed like a great fit and...a comfy corner...here we go :)





To light up that corner, we decided to use the LED strips I previously purchased for a great price.

We zigzagged them on the metal profiles , to provide an even distribution of light (at least we tried), so we can later cover it with Spandex fabric like we did in the other part of the ceiling.





I will not tire you up with detail about how we plugged each and every outlet in the place, but after a few hours of more cables, more cutting and tying, we finally had outlets in all 4 corners of the place, we had switches to turn on and off all the lights and we had a main electrical relay to handle all the weight.

















Now we going for the toilet

We all gotta go eventually and it might be easier for me (a lush bush is all i need โ›บ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) but my pregnant better half (not pregnant any longer ๐Ÿ‘ถ ) and the other visitors in the place were really needed a better solution.

So yet again I will not bother you with the process of working out a new toilet in a place, I will just show you the final result.





We still need to give it a nice coat of paint (or 2, or 5) and new floor, and perhaps some additinoal little touches , but the basics are ready to flush stuff to the unknown.

The last part that will allow us to start connecting some hydroponic systems is a proper air conditioning.



In a few weeks I am planning to purchase an air cooler based on water, that will consume about 240 watt of energy but can help me get the temperature and even the humidity in the place to the desired measure.




something similar to this

But as we are located in Israel, where as I write this post the temperature is reaching 34 degrees celsius (94 fahrenheit) , a greenhouse like structure can reach quite high temperatures during the day, so as my budget for this project is limited I decided to use an old air conditioning unit I had, so we can have at least some kind of bearable condition inside, while we wait for the new cooling unit.









In order to position the engines of the air conditioner we had to build a custom frame and positioned them right outside the building.





While hanging the air conditioner we also have prepared the pipes for the toilet drainage and plugged it into the nearby sewers.





The final step for today was to connect us to the water line.
We used 16mm ABS pipes that can be used for high pressure (we are connected to the main line so the pressure coming out of our taps is very strong) water flow, and ran it all around the place.





That will allow us to have water in any position we require for our systems, maintenance, or any other use weโ€™ll have.

So a few dozen meters of pipe, a few iron connectors, taps and our main water line was back in use.









Though after testing it for electrical conductivity, we have discovered that our water wasnt as โ€˜cleanโ€™ as we hoped for (our initial EC reading were quite high + you could see that the water had a certain hue and taste)...but we will deal with that later.


We were ready to proceed to the next stage.



We have finally got ourselves electricity, running water, lights and even air conditioning.

Everything was starting to take shape and we were excited to proceed.

As i mentioned previously, one of the plans for this place is to have the hydroponics systems functioning automatically, that will include measuring the temperature, the EC and the PH of the water and dosing our main reservoirs with the required substances (PH acids and fertilizer) according to the desired setting.

But for that we still need to figure out how to clean up our water and properly design our water distribution...and that will take a bit of time, but as we already had water and each of the systems can function on a separate reservoir as well, we decided that our next step will be to plug and plant a few of the systems we have and deal with the automatic watering system later.

But this will be in our metaphorical tomorrow, as our metaphorical today is coming to an end.

So thanks for sticking around, I know this post might not be as exciting...but the grid had to be done, without electricity and water we would not be able to proceed to the fun stuff, so it had to be done and I promise you that some interesting stuff are coming up, so stay tuned.

In the next post i will be sharing the plan we have for our water filtering and distribution, how we going to connect our main reservoir and how we going to make it all function automatically.

But the best part is that we will be finally planting some veggies :)


Here are a few teaser photos from our future endeavours .

























Thanks for sticking around, see you in the next post.


For more stories and photographs, make sure to check out my profile and if you like some of the stuff then perhaps consider UPVOTING, FOLLOWING and RESTEEMING.

@carpedimus

โ€œ The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.โ€

~ Marcel Proust

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If you missed out on the previous posts in this series make sure to check them out:

Building a Fully Automated, Self Sustainable, Solar, Hydroponic, Micro Urban Farm - The Outside - Part 1 ๐ŸŒฟโ™ป๐ŸŽ

Building a Fully Automated, Self Sustainable, Solar, Hydroponic, Micro Urban Farm - The Inside - Part 2 ๐Ÿ†โš’๐Ÿšž

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ย  ยท ย 2๋…„ ์ „

I use a very similar air cooler in my shipping container where I keep my worms. It is just a swamp cooler or evaporative cooler. Works well but it does not drop temp as much as it should because it is already so humid here so I just add a dehumidifier also. The dryer the air the more the swamp cooler will drop temp so they both work well together. Mine runs 220 watts I believe which is not bad with a 600 watt wind generator I am still going to install and the rest of my 2k solar setup which gives me plenty of juice to run the swamp cooler and dehumidifier along with led lights and water pumps for fodder and microgreens. Really nice setup your working on. Congrats look forward to reading more about it

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Thank you very much for taking the time to comment and for the compliments :) .

I actually had a concern regarding the possible humidity issues, as the cooler sort of stops being effective once the humidity levels reach a certain level, but as you said, it is still more effective to used the cooler along side a dehumidifier (by the way that might generate some additional water for my tanks) than running a standard AC in a non air-locked space.

What type of dehumidifier are you using?

Your setups sounds awesome, I have tried to look at your account to see if you made a post about it, but could not really find.
It sounds very interesting, perhaps you can share it with us.

Thanks again for the comment.

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ย  ยท ย 2๋…„ ์ „

I have not made a post on it but I will be. It was a project that started way before steemit. Ivation 70 Pint Energy Star Dehumidifier - Large-Capacity For Spaces Up To 4,500 Sq Ft . I still need to finish the rest of the solar setup. This was the start of it a while ago. https://steemit.com/homestead/@liberyworms/45-ft-shipping-container-homestead-business

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You should absolutely do an update post!

Looks promising ;)

Thanks for the info, will make sure to measure my humidity in the upcoming weeks after i put up the cooler, lets see if i;ll need a dehumidifier, i hope i can skip it.

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ย  ยท ย 2๋…„ ์ „

I am in North FL and it is very high humidity here I am not sure how dry or humid your area is. I know these evap coolers can drop up to 30 degrees in dry areas. It will drop temp very well here but usually only 10 to 15 degree but without a dehumidifier it just gets very very muggy but with one it does help drop temp better.

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Yeah makes sense, it works on water after all...I will have to check that out, as high humidity might be alright for a proper greenhouse.

But as this place is going to be only semi-greenhose and the rest of the place will have human visitors :), humidity in the high 60-70 might be a bit not 'user-friendly', so I might need to consider a dehumidifier as well ,

Thanks for pointing my attention to that!

ย  ยท ย 2๋…„ ์ „

Wonderful Photos โค @carpedimus

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Thank you friend โค

ย  ยท ย 2๋…„ ์ „

Man this is fantastic project, so far so good, getting a Dew collector will make things better, at least reduce the water intake . I would like to see your next post

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Thank you my friend, yeah due to the high humidity in the area, I think a decent size dew collector on the roof can actually be quite effective.

I just need to figure out how to properly attach it to that roof + run the proper piping to bring that water where I actually need it.
It is definitely on my bucket list, but it will have to wait for a bit.

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ย  ยท ย 2๋…„ ์ „

Quite a project you have there, you are going big and automated. I like automated, it fits my personality ;-)

I chat I mentioned to you I may have some questions about hydroponic in the future. I'm beginner with few indoor lettuce with Kratky system. I have problems with outer leaf burn. Here, I will just copy/paste what I already asked steempowerpics, maybe you have some tips for me:


For now I'm only growing indoor lettuce, since it is the simplest, and while I grow quite a lot and my lettuce looks great from far away lol, if you look closely you will find some outside tip burns. In some cases quite a lot :-(

I did some searching on the internet and I can see there are all kind of possible reasons for it, but generally tip burns happen because of calcium deficiency which can happen because of one or more of these combinations:

  • not enough calcium or magnesium
  • high temperature & low humidity
  • low temperature & high humidity
  • high sodium content
  • too high ppm (TDS)

Ideal TDS should be between 500 and 700ppm
Mine is around 900 but my tap water is 240 so nutrients adds less than 700. Now I wonder, should I decrease the nutrients solution a little bit to lower concentration?

I'm doing Kratky setup, no air. But solution seems clear and roots white enough. Humidity is on a low side, that's how it is here, but temp is not too high.

Do you happen to have any suggestion, tip?
Btw, would you happen to know, which lettuce is more resistant to noob mistakes, can tolerate more abuses and be more resilient for tip burn? ;-)

My solution per gallon: 2g masterblend, 2g calcium nitrate and 1g magnesium sulfate (epsom salt)

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Hello my friend.

Yes I am a freak of automation as well, I guess this is my residual laziness syndrome kicking in :)
I will be sharing how we decided to do the automation in the new place in my next post, I think it worked out pretty awesome at the end.

Regarding your question, you are probably right, usually inner leaf tipburn relates so some sorts of calcium deficiency.

But there are quite a few reasons that can cause calcium deficiency.

You mentioned your humidity is not that high, what do you mean by that? what are your typical levels? also what is your average temperature and do you have spikes in temperature during the day?

The reason I am asking is that most often those symptoms are appearing not due to lack of calcium in the nutrition solution (as your seem to have quite a bit of it, perhaps even too much) but rather environmental aspects of your growing environment leading to poor calcium uptake by the roots or the young leaves.

You need to make sure that your plant have active and proper transpiration, that there is enough air movement and proper humidity and temperature to facilitate adequate calcium uptake to developing tissues.

So my first tip would be to add a fan to circulate the air around your plants.

Another issues that might be happening here, is too much DLI ( daily light integrals) coming out of your lights.
I presume you are using LED, do you know their ppfd grading? or even the True Watt use?
Perhaps the light are a bit to close to the plants canopy, paired with lack of air circulation and relatively high humidity and temperature can really be the reason for your tipburns.

So to sum up my tip would be to check out you lights suggested hanging height and make sure they are not to close to the plants, add a small fan to gently circulate the air around the plants.

But I must admit, It seems that you are putting quite a bit of effort in your growing adventure, you got yourself some dedicated lights and a table and all, wouldn't it be more productive and probably much less maintenance to simply build a bigger unit that will house all of your lettuce heads under the same water tank?
Perhaps a proper DWC with a nice air stone?

Anyhow that is just mine humble opinion.

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ย  ยท ย 2๋…„ ์ „

Thank you for your answer. I will add the fan. Yes I understand that calcium intake is probably the problem not it's concentration in water solution. About humidity, here, where I am it is very dry so humidity is somewhere between 30-50% which I called on the low side ;-)

The lights are neon daylight growth T7 (per memory, maybe t8? whatever was said to be the best a year or two ago). Temperature is within the range around 68-70F. I'm checking temp. on the leafs also.

I will at some point upgrade to DWC. I'm taking my slow learning baby steps. And I would like to do it right, many just buy plastic storage totes... I wonder about plastic chemical leaching in those cases. My bottles are at least made of glass ;-)

I think fan should help. Also, I just ordered different nutrition mix, I'm curious if it will make the difference. And I need to figure out which lettuce types are the most abuse resistant lol

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You got a 22.24% upvote from @brupvoter courtesy of @carpedimus!

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This post has won a 2 SBD prize in the @offgrid-online Alternative Power contest - already transfered to you. Thank you for sharing your Knowledge and Experience :)

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I am honored @offgrid-online, thank you so much !