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Sugar Research in the Tropics

Industry: Government

Bonlec Controls have used Innotech's Genesis II Digital Control System to automate a new Photoperiod Facility (PF) located at the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Station (BSES) Meringa, just south of Cairns in tropical Far North Queensland. The PF facility is used to expose sugarcane plants to manipulated environmental conditions so that the flower initiation response is triggered. The flowers are used in cross-pollination for crop improvement. The PF consists of three chambers, each containing a train with four trolleys holding 32 sugarcane plants. The chambers are equipped with motorised doors, air-conditioning, irrigation and artificial lighting.

The Genesis II system provides full system automation and performs complex routines such as calculating the almanac sunrise and sunset to determine the period each day that the plants are exposed to ambient conditions. Numerous safety functions for both the plants and personnel are controlled by the Genesis system. For example, the path of the trains is monitored for obstructions to protect personnel and equipment. The plants are protected from high winds by returning them to the chamber if the wind speed exceeds 50 kilometres per hour.

Dr Nils Berding, Principal Scientist of BSES Meringa offered the following comments on the system, "The PF operations have run smoothly for this past initiation cycle with good results. We have in the DDCs a complex, precise, yet flexible state-of-the-art operation control system that has proven functional, reliable, and economical, and is Australian to the core."

Key Functions
  • Calculate Almanac Sunrise and Sunset
  • Irrigation control
  • Monitor wind speeds
  • Control chamber temperatures and lighting
  • Control winching of trains and monitor path for obstructions
  • Data log system variables
  • Remote computer access and control
  • Dial out alarms to mobile phones and facsimiles

For more information about this project or if Innotech can help you please contact us.