Living the Dream: Chris Butler

Chris Butler

Giving Tree Farms

Anderson Valley, CA

Each year we have the opportunity to work on efficiency, something that we use not only to cut back on costs, but also to boost our sustainability efforts. Through the use of “smart” farming technologies, we are able to compile relevant data points that paint a picture of our farm in extreme detail.

Irrigation controls monitor our water usage and fight back against overwatering. Satellite imagery allows us to see our farm from an outside point of view. We can use this to map out our garden area as well as recognize crop issues before they cause a significant problem. Lumos, a sun tracking app, is used to monitor the sun’s movement across the sky so we can pull back our retractable walls and use the sun’s energy in place of artificial lights. Our climate controls in the greenhouse obtain information from our climate sensors, giving us an indication of when we need to use the dehumidifier, open the ridge vent or adjust the temperature. The use of water monitors and pH pens gives us precise control over the plant’s feeding and watering specifics, something our plants love as much as we do.

We also use external smart farming technologies, like when we send out soil samples for analysis to obtain valuable data about the health of our medium. The results let us know what amendments need to be added before the next cycle, preparing us for a successful crop.

Because each farm is unique, the data we collect is only valuable to our operation. While we can form facts from our data that may help our friends in their cultivation journey, the real benefit for them will come from monitoring their own farming practices to tailor unique solutions to their unique challenges.

With the use of these technologies, farmers can make informed decisions about their plants’ needs with extreme accuracy. They can also take a closer look at their sustainability additions and costly projects, then employ the most effective strategy.

If we run into a new problem, we can use our tools to try new methods and monitor the responses each step of the way. This expands our flexibility as cultivators to increase our efficiency and yield without sacrificing quality and sustainability.

Smart farming is how we farmers will continue to grow our success. It’s how we evolve with the increasing demand for products as a result of a growing population and how we boost the caliber of our operation through the meticulous composition of science-backed data.


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