Global population growth has increased food production challenges and pushed agricultural systems to deploy the Internet of Things (IoT) instead of using conventional approaches. Controlling the environmental parameters, including light, in greenhouses increases the crop yield; nonetheless, the electricity cost of supplemental lighting can be high, and hence, the importance of applying cost-effective lighting methods arises. In this research paper, a new optimal supplemental lighting approach was developed and implemented in a research greenhouse by adopting IoT technology. The proposed approach minimizes electricity cost by leveraging a Markov-based sunlight prediction, plant light needs, and a variable electricity price profile. Two experimental studies were conducted inside a greenhouse with "Green Towers" lettuce (Lactuca sativa) during winter and spring in Athens, GA, USA. The experimental results showed that compared to a heuristic method that provides light to reach a predetermined threshold at each time step, our strategy reduced the cost by 4.16% and 33.85% during the winter and spring study, respectively. A paired t-test was performed on the growth parameter measurements; it was determined that the two methods did not have different results in terms of growth. In conclusion, the proposed lighting approach reduced electricity cost while maintaining crop growth.
Keywords: Internet of Things (IoT); image processing; optimal control; supplemental lighting in greenhouses.