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GREENHOUSE “WITH SOIL” or “SOILLESS”: common features and differences

Firstly, in all the greenhouses, the production cycles are higher than the ones in the open field for number and yield.
This achievement is now possible thanks to the adoption of precision agriculture tools that allow precise control of the microclimate (another common characteristic) and rational management of all phases of production.

For example:

  • the wireless sensors that detect accurately the humidity, temperature, solar radiation etc provide data required to create and maintain the ideal environment for plants;
  • the wireless sensors that measure soil moisture, pH, EC, are useful to dictate the timing of irrigation and fertilization;
  • the wireless sensors that regulate fertigation operations allow you to intervene in a precise way, avoiding waste or excess.


All this can be integrated in an automation system – thanks to wireless actuators – to adjust the opening of doors for ventilation, solar exposure, irrigation and many other operations, according to need.

The greenhouse cultivation, in fact, is the ideal place to take the tools of the Internet of Things – IoT (interconnected systems that act intelligently on the basis of measured data and preset thresholds) like wireless sensors and wireless actuators.

Micro-climate controlled,
Internet of Things (IoT),
rational management,
high yield.
These are some common points of all types of greenhouse soilless or with soil.
And the differences?

First, in the greenhouses soilless, the soil is replaced with perlite, expanded clay, rock wool, coconut fiber, to name a few.

We see in detail other differences.

Sterilization of the culture medium (to eliminate bacteria, viruses, fungi and weeds)

With soil: with steam or chemical fumigants, it requires intensive work by the farmer and can last from 2 to 3 weeks.

Soilless: with steam or chemical fumigants but the operation is much less complex and quicker.

Plant nutrition

With soil: it depends on the richness of the soil and its pH. Moreover, the presence of nutrients in the soil is variable. The control of the pH in several points allows to better monitor the condition of the terrain and the deficiencies in some areas.

Soilless: being controlled nourishment, this is distributed evenly to all the plants. There is an effective control of the pH, so the farmer is able to intervene promptly, by administering the right amount of nutrients.


With soil: the intensity of the crop depends on the richness of the soil.

Soilless: it is possible to increase the number of plants per unit of area, optimizing the available space and the production yield.


With soil: the weeds could be present.

Soilless: they are not present.

Diseases and insects

With soil: it can manifest typical diseases of the open field and infestations of pests. To overcome this problem you practice crop rotation. The climate regulation based on the data gathered by the wireless sensors of moisture or temperature etc support the farmer in preserving ideal conditions.

Soilless: no diseases, no insects, no crop rotation.



With soil: the water is more or less retained on the basis of the soil structure. Furthermore, the water can disperse by evaporation from the soil surface or by percolation over the root zone. The humidity sensors at different depth levels are useful to understand the water need of the land.

Soilless: no water stress for the plant. By automating irrigation, on the basis of soil moisture wireless sensor, it is given the right amount when needed without waste.

Fruit quality

With soil: if the soil is low in calcium and potassium, the fruit may be too much soft. Its durability is poor.

Soilless: by controlling plant nutrition, you can get lush fruits that last longer.


With soil: the amount depends on the type of soil, it is however more difficult to distribute evenly. The fertilizer can disperse in the soil for the leaching process. Also in this case the wireless sensors can help in the management of the fertilizer.

Soilless: it can be uniformly distributed and in the right quantity.


With soil: you must pay attention to organic fertilizers

Soilless: there are no biological agents in the nutrients given.


With soil: you need to eradicate the plants and prepare the soil.

Soilless: no preparation required for the culture medium. In this case, the transplant is no shock and allows faster growth.


With soil: the soil must be regularly changed every few years as it decreases its fertility.

Soilless: the medium can last several years also sterilized.

Yield (in the case of a crop of tomatoes)

With soil: from 6 to 10 kg per year per plant

Soilless: from 22 to 31 kg per year per plant

In both cases, the precision agriculture tools enable a more profitable and efficient management.


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