Seeding the Right IoT Architecture at AeroFarms

Dell Technologies’ customer AeroFarms is on a mission to build and operate environmentally responsible farms throughout the world by enabling local production at scale to nourish communities with safe, nutritious and delicious food. AeroFarms is the world’s largest indoor vertical farm and yields up to 390x more produce than a traditional field farm – all without sunlight, soil, or pesticides and all with 95% less water.

AeroFarms builds vertical farms in urban areas such as Newark, New Jersey, where they have their global headquarters as well. Through a high-tech, data-driven method of misting nutrients directly on to the plant roots, as well as directing appropriate amounts and wavelengths of artificial light, leafy greens can thrive!

AeroFarms Production Farm in Newark, NJ

In order to optimize the plant health, growth and yield, AeroFarms needs best-in-class technology to harness diverse data types quickly that allow their teams to drive insights and make informed decisions. Their partnership with Dell Technologies enables them to implement the right data-driven machinery into their industry-leading processes, whereby they can automate and analyze everything from seed to package using data from temperature, humidity, airflow, nutrients, light, water, and food safety.

To begin their IoT journey, AeroFarms worked with Dell EMC Consulting to determine their use cases, design a technical architecture that met their business requirements, and develop an implementation roadmap to achieve their business goals.

Designing the Architecture

From an architectural standpoint, there were several unique challenges and considerations for AeroFarms that needed to be taken into account:

As part of the architecture, we recommended Dell Edge Gateways for IoT so the research and production farms could speed the plant health instrumentation data to be analyzed. We also included a Dell EMC PowerEdge R740xd, High Performance Compute node, to support artificial intelligence, deep learning and advanced, custom analytics that can help AeroFarms with improved growing conditions, such as automating image recognition and classification to adjust plant nutrients, light and other factors.

Value Delivered

AeroFarms is a fascinating example of how technology advances human progress and we’re proud to be part of their story. In providing strategic and technical guidance, Dell EMC Consulting has helped AeroFarms implement a scalable architecture that meets their business requirements, including custom grow analytics, and also works within the unique parameters of their being an emerging company.

To quote David Rosenberg, CEO and Co-Founder of AeroFarms, “We also greatly benefited from Dell EMC expert consulting services, which helped us align our business and determine our highest-value analytics use cases.”

I’ve had the pleasure of working with AeroFarms directly and have also co-presented our joint story at industry events including: CIAB 2018 conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil where I presented with Jess Karol, Software Engineer, AeroFarms (pictured) and more recently with Michael Fernandez, Senior Systems Engineer, AeroFarms at the AT&T Summit in Dallas, Texas.

A Collaborative Approach

As with any technology project, IoT, AI and big data analytics solutions must be planned and executed with full orchestration of business needs. Our style of consulting is to develop an architecture and roadmap ‘WITH YOU’ – not ‘FOR YOU’.

After the conference in Sao Paulo, I was fortunate to spend a fabulous weekend in Iguazu Falls National Park. On the border between Brazil and Argentina, the Iguazu River (translation: “Big Water”) has carved a spectacular gorge with more than 270 waterfalls. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is worthy of the time and effort to visit. My recommendation is to stay on the

Brazilian side of the falls in the fantastic Hotel Belmond, which is within the National Park itself and provides early access to the falls before the park opens. There are convenient flights from major Brazilian cities to the Iguazu airport (Brazil side), which is just minutes from the falls.  An incredible experience not to be missed!

Contact us if you’d like to hear how Dell Technologies Consulting can help your organization.

About the Author: Laddie Suk

Laddie leads a cross-functional Dell Technologies Consulting team focused on digital transformation and industry solutions. He is a seasoned industry veteran with deep experience across multiple industries, solutions, and technologies. As a former Verizon Network CIO and Network Executive at AT&T and Bell Labs, he has extensive hands-on experience in leading strategic network and IT development projects and managing communication service provider environments. He has also led strategic and tactical engagements in network transformation, IT transformation, and business process and performance improvement for clients throughout the Americas.