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Energy chain and intelligent sensors for precision watering trolleys with a span of 45m

Irrigation of potted plants on an area of 9,180m² saves up to 60% of water.

green vector award
Winner of the 2022 green vector award: Dercks Gartenbau GmbH designed the precision watering trolley with the aim of conserving groundwater resources and reducing energy costs. Following a successful initial prototype, the second model, with a 45m span, has now been constructed for targeted irrigation of potted plants on an area of 9,190m2. To ensure that the supply cables and the two hoses for the water supply are not pulled over the ground, an energy chain is installed to move them safely above it. Intelligent sensors for push/pull force measurement complement the energy supply system.

Profile

  • What was needed: E2 energy chain, iSense sensors for condition monitoring of the energy chain
  • Requirements: The supply cables should run safely in a fail-safe guidance above the ground.
  • Industry: Agricultural engineering
  • Success for the customer: The safe and low-wear guidance in the energy chain enables a long service life, and the area below the cable guide can also be used for potted plants. As a result, the customer expects amortisation of the investment after just four years.
The precision watering trolley has a span of 45m, reaches a travel speed of 18m/min and covers an area of 9,180m². It achieves a water saving potential of around 60%.

Problem

"Watering trolleys" are used in horticulture to supply plants with water as well as the nutrients dissolved therein and possibly also plant protection products. In order to be able to reduce the application and use of irrigation water to just the necessary level, Dercks Gartenbau GmbH has developed the "precision watering trolley". The idea behind this is to give the plants exactly as much water as they need to grow.
With this irrigation system, the company is able to precisely apply the irrigation water to the centre of the pot. However, on the farm's potted plants on around 8ha of open land, there is not only a great potential for saving water. In addition to a 35% reduction of the amount of water that would otherwise have to be brought to the watering trolleys, the electricity consumption required to operate the pumps can also be reduced by about half.
Based on the idea in spring 2015, a first prototype for the precision watering trolley was constructed, which operates on a floor space of 2,400m2 and supplies plants in larger planters with a low population density. Based on the positive experiences, another, significantly larger model was finally developed in 2018. The prototype watering trolley has a span of 45m, reaches a travel speed of 18m/min and covers an area of 9,180m2. At 32 pots per m2, the precision watering trolley achieves a water saving potential of around 60%. In total, over 4,000cbm of irrigation water and over 1,400kg of nutrient salt can be saved per hectare and season.
In order to be able to safely carry the supply cables, but in particular the two 1 1/4" hoses for the water supply, for the long travel distances of the irrigation system, the horticultural company was looking for suitable cable guide.

Solution

In order to route all supply cables safely above the ground, the horticultural company now relies on E2 energy chains from the 3500 series. The gentle cable guidance is complemented by a low weight of the plastic chain. At the same time, a crossbar system allows quick and easy opening of the chain and uncomplicated access to cables and hoses. Since the system moves above the plant pots and no cables hang down, not only does maintenance work decrease. The area below it can also be used for a further 10 rows of pots. This gained floor space means 3% higher efficiency - and that's profitable for operations. After all, according to the customer, the investment in the energy chain pays off after just four years. And so far, this has proven to be the case. After the first season, the horticulturist's experience with cable guidance has been consistently positive.
The energy chain is supplemented by our smart plastics for energy chains. Our so-called iSense module is an intelligent sensor system that, attached to the cable guide, continuously measures and transmits the existing push/pull forces and, if necessary, initiates an emergency stop of the system. If the forces exceed a limit value, greater damage and costly repairs to the cable guide can be avoided. The horticulturist installed the energy chain as well as the push/pull force monitoring himself.

"The energy chain is a must in order to achieve the maximum use of space on the floor space of the precision watering trolley. With the additional floor space gained, the investment in the energy chain pays off in four years. We are therefore happy to be able to use the energy chain here."

Peter Dercks, Dercks Gardening GmbH
Energy chains
Energy chains
Energy chains


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