by Liang-Jie Lin
At a greenhouse farm in Liu Ying district, Tainan, Lock Chen builds his own smart farm using information technology. A former engineer, Chen is now working on a farm that features agriculture with the help of digitalized information.
A smart farm that brings together information technology and agriculture
In 2002, Chen left the information technology industry and was searching for a second career in life. It was then that he started to learn more about agriculture. He believed that if technology and agriculture were combined, there could be countless relevant applications and developments. Therefore, he started Aisne Technology Co., Ltd., aiming at developing new methods in agriculture.
In 2018, Chen began to design his own farm. “I built the entire greenhouse from scratch with my own hands!” said Chen with a confident smile. Except for the steels and bars that were outsourced to iron factories for assembly, Chen and his team put together everything else on the farm, including raised garden beds, environmental control systems, cooling wall, solar fan, and a system that controls temperature and humidity. Chen also learned from experienced farmers to design and assemble the equipment needed in farming.
Easy management done in traditional ways
“Everyone thinks of sensors and high-end technology when it comes to smart farming,” said Chen, who admitted that he had the same thought in the first place. However, Chen is now able to think outside the box; instead of installing sensors, he chose the traditional way of farming, which proves to be self-sufficient and easier for management.
For instance, Chen adopts organic farming systems using earthworms, which help loosen the soil and provide nutrients that groceries need. At the front end of the farm is a large cooling wall that circulates water from top to bottom through the pad. When the air in the greenhouse goes through the wall, the temperature drops. Also, through a cooling tower and water tank, the heat exchange is carried out in the cooling tower, maintaining the soil temperature at 22 °C.
Chen mentioned that he plans to open a direct-sale store in Kaohsiung to sell vegetables such as lettuce in the future. He will also develop robotic arms that help with seedling. In current projects, it is still hard to use robotic arms without hurting the seedlings. If there could be a solution, Chen can then fully employ automation on his farm.