How we’re tracking data basics in indoor farms

Nick Quaranto
The Greenhouse
Published in
3 min readAug 8, 2016


Data has become a meaningless word. Everything is data! Your phone has data. My fridge has data. You’re data. I’m data. Stop. Let’s make data real for a moment:

Indoor farmers grow all sorts of crops: cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, and even more. Their goal is to get these crops from seed to your table (or perhaps, your favorite chef’s kitchen). Between seed and sale, there are a lot of data points to think about: when is the next harvest? Is the environment inside of the facility ideal for growing? Is all of the space in the facility being utilized? If not, what is the best way to do so?

This is real data, and this is what we’re tracking at Agrilyst.

Close those Excel spreadsheets with complicated formulas determining what needs to be seeded and when to seed. Throw away the post-it notes reminding you about important tasks. Erase the DO NOT ERASE whiteboard with this week’s schedule and don’t feel guilty about it. We’ve got it.

We’re tracking data a few ways so far, and we’re just getting started. We’re:

  • Collecting temperature, humidity, CO², and light level readings from sensors
  • Automatically scheduling seeding and harvests based on your recurring schedules
  • Tracking crop movement from stage to stage with barcode scanning
  • Forecasting expected yield and measuring against actual crop yield
  • Aggregating your notes and photos for each lot planted

Together, these data points show you exactly what your operation looks like — and help you understand how to improve.

Seeds germinating nicely on a flood table. (via)

We’ve just launched that last way of tracking data, with a journal for notes and photos — and we’re excited about it. From a technology perspective, it’s relatively straightforward: securely store text snippets about each crop, and make sure images uploaded stay secure + archived for future investigation.

What does it look like in action? Here’s a quick example:

Yes, it’s just comments and image attachments.

Look at the bigger picture though: we are making day-to-day operations inside indoor farms better. That note isn’t going to get lost in your paper to-do list or stuck on a clipboard to be forgotten about. A photo of today’s tomatoes can be pulled up in 2 months when the next lot is ready for harvest — and can be used to improve the process for that lot and for all future lots.

This is just the start — stay tuned for more updates from the product team here at Agrilyst! Thanks for reading.

Never heard of indoor farming? Want to learn more about how technology and data are changing how we grow food worldwide? We’re hiring. We’ll bring you to a greenhouse and show you how it’s happening — and how we’re helping.

Photos via flickr.



Nick Quaranto
The Greenhouse

@qrush is a short, sturdy creature fond of drink and industry. Working on @Agrilyst, @CoworkBuffalo, @MxDesk.