Humidity control in agriculture is unlike any other industrial setting. This is due to the relationship between the air and the plants, as well as the differing conditions throughout the day and over different seasons.
Controlling humidity in greenhouses and indoor growing facilities is a necessity. Untreated humidity, in such settings, leads to major problems and inefficiencies. As the crops aren’t exposed to the conditions optimal to them, they grow slower, smaller, and their quality is reduced.
Unchecked humidity will cause condensation inside any facility. The presence of this free water leads to the development of diseases such as botrytis and downy mildew, which can rapidly destroy large amounts of vegetables, Cannabis or any other crop .
What is Humidity
To understand the difference between agricultural and industrial humidity control, it’s important to understand what humidity is.
In short, humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. In most cases, humidity is presented as relative humidity. This is the amount of water vapor in the air, measured as a percentage of the maximum water vapor the air is able to hold.
The most important aspect of relative humidity is also the least intuitive part of it. The colder air gets, the less water vapor it can hold. So relative humidity is affected by two main factors – the absolute amount of water vapor and the air’s temperature.
Once relative humidity reaches 100%, either by moisture building up, or by the air cooling down, water starts to condense. This is known as the dewpoint and is exactly what growers try to avoid.
How Plants Generate Humidity?
One of the main differences between agriculture and industry, is that the crops themselves constantly emit water vapor.
Plants require water to perform the most basic physical processes. In most settings, the water will be provided through the ground. The water is taken in through the roots and water vapor is emitted from the leaves. As much as 90% of the water used for irrigation is transpired this way, constantly pushing the relative humidity upwards.
How Agricultural Humidity Control Differs from Industrial Dehumidification?
Industrial manufacturing is characterized by standardization. Most processes happen in highly controlled environments, in which climate conditions are strictly regulated and maintained. Any emitted water vapor or heat are usually expected and accounted for.
Greenhouses, on the other hand, cannot be standardized to the same level. Most greenhouse operations will be subjected to fluctuating conditions. Outdoor temperature and humidity have a great impact on the conditions inside. The conditions differ throughout the day and over different seasons, making it impossible to account for changes beforehand. Rather, greenhouse growing is based on agronomical research, predictions and real-time responses to differing conditions.
Plants are living organisms. As such, their physiological behavior changes in reaction to their environment. The main factors affecting the rate of transpiration include temperature, lighting and radiation, plant size, and foliage density. All of which change constantly. These fluctuations in temperature and transpiration rates throughout the day, lead to everchanging relative humidity levels.
One of the most common overlooked aspects when comparing dehumidification systems, is the expected or desired conditions in the facility. Many dehumidification manufacturers present their water extraction rates at a temperature of around 80oF. While most greenhouses aim to operate at lower temperatures, around 64oF. As colder air holds less water vapor, the extraction rates are much lower. This should be kept in mind when considering humidity control options.
Get Better Results with Dedicated Agricultural Dehumidification
While most humidity control systems out there are still designed for industrial purposes, many newer manufacturers specialize in agriculture alone.
Dedicated dehumidifiers for agriculture are designed specifically for the conditions and challenges faced in greenhouses, glasshouses and indoor growing facilities. Manufacturers such as DryGair come from a background of greenhouse research and are designed and tested to operate specifically in ecosystems associated with crop cultivation.
When it comes to greenhouse growing, humidity control requires more than a dehumidification unit. It takes real know-how and understanding to reliably eliminate humidity problems, as well as maintaining efficient energy consumption in the process.
Working with companies that specialize in agriculture provides added value to growers. The ability to receive reliable consultation, based specifically on your growing space and climate conditions, can make a huge difference in crop quality and growth, as well as reduce operational costs.