5 Questions with John Petze

Special Advertising Section - Special Advertising Section | Ask the Experts: Analytic Software

John Petze, principal and co-founder of SkyFoundry, explains which metrics are essential for growers to track and how data can help improve efficiencies.

July 2, 2019

1. What are some of the key performance indicators (KPIs) SkySpark Analytics can track?

SkySpark can implement virtually any KPI relevant to the operation. For growers, common examples include:

  • Nutrients consumed per yield
  • Water consumed per yield
  • Revenue per yield
  • Yield per kW-h of energy consumed
  • Man-hours per yield
  • Watts per square foot or square meter.

Being able to capture, view and analyze the data from crop cycles is essential. Growers are experimenting to optimize yield and quality, and analytics are essential to enable proper assessment of different grow techniques, methods and recipes.

2. How often is this data updated and how can I monitor it?

SkySpark is designed to accept whatever data the grower has available. There is wide variation in the type, format and frequency of data available from different equipment systems and sensors. Environmental control systems for temperature, humidity and lighting can typically offer near real-time data. Electrical consumption information is typically provided on a 10- to 15-minute interval by utilities. Fertigation systems may provide a link for live data as well.

3. Why is it important to monitor energy, water, nutrient and resource usage?

Energy, water and nutrient resources make up the largest operational costs for growers, so it’s essential to understand and efficiently manage their use. But it goes beyond just tracking, reporting and managing the volume of resources consumed. Improper application can damage plant growth and adversely affect yield. So, whether on the resource input side (cost) or the output side (yield), growers need to have a clear understanding of usage. Analytics can automatically detect faults, anomalies, deviations and trends so that issues can be corrected quickly.

4. What kind of efficiency and performance improvements will I be able to make in my cultivation facility using this data?

Seeing data from the diverse systems, sensors and equipment in their facilities presented in a single, normalized view enables growers to better understand overall operation, and in many cases, is necessary to support reporting requirements for investors and regulators. Analytic software acts as an ever-present expert to identify patterns that represent inefficiencies, deviations, anomalies and opportunities for improved performance. Some examples include: detecting incorrect lighting operation, water and nutrient usage, and deviation of more advanced environmental variables such as vapor pressure deficit (VPD).

5. How do you ensure that this sensitive information remains private and only available to us?

Security and privacy of data and operational results are critical to growers. SkySpark is unique, as it can be installed on-premise, so that all data, analytic results and KPIs stay inside the secure networks of the grower’s facility on IT hardware. The capability for on-premise installation along with security features ensure that growers’ data remains private.