Using OPTO 22 products to manage irrigation in a container nursery

I have seen OPTO 22 products used in nurseries to control irrigation zones or greenhouse shading based on rainfall or sunlight. I wanted to use the products to manage the irrigation of different zones within a nursery. This would require:

  1. weather data to be downloaded into the software (in .csv format)
  2. Calculations based on evaporation and transpiration by software to determine vertical inches of water irrigated
  3. PAC display showing nursery and zones with solenoids
  4. Using software to change frequently with ease based on crop movement from zone to zone

If anyone has done any of the individual things mentioned above with OPTO products, please let me know. I am trying to determine if this is possible with the current product line.

Thank you.

Hello Caleb,

Welcome to the OptoForums!

Short answer: YES, there are many similar-sounding applications using Opto 22 equipment. This one shows a screenshot of our “PAC Display Runtime Basic” (free!) software with various zones and temperature information on the home page of their website:

Rather than downloading weather data, you could even have a PAC controller pull current weather automatically from a website with that information, here’s a subroutine that shows how:

Our training and product support are both free, and there’s also lots of friendly folks here on the OptoForums with lots of suggestions on how you might go about approaching various aspects of your project.

Hope that helps!


Thanks for the reply. I have played with the software and it is very confusing without a command reference/search tool.

Can the PAC or “PAC control” poll data to the controller? If so how often? And if not, will it know when data is changed or does the user need to push data to the controller?


Hi Caleb,

Welcome to the forums.

You will find the commands reference/search tools two ways;

  1. When you downloaded PAC Project, the manuals were installed on your hard drive.
    Check them out where you installed it, by default they are under C:\Program Files (x86)\Opto22\PAC Project 9.2\Manuals
    The command reference (which, since its a PDF, is searchable) is doc 1701. But dont forget doc 1703, it lists the commands with a one line description… Pretty handy once you get past the basic commands.

  2. When you are in PAC Control, just click on the menu ‘Help -> Manuals -> Command Reference’. (You can also search from there as well since its the same doc).

PAC Control in debug mode will poll data from the I/O as fast as your network will allow it.
For an application like your nursery, that’s going to be way too fast… You really don’t need to poll your temperature and water status every 50ms or so, that’s just a waste of your network and its pretty ‘dull’ to have to try and look at tumbling numbers in PAC Control and keep track of what its trend over time is/was.
Far better to get your strategy up and running and then make a PAC Display project to match.
You can have PAC Display poll your data at a much more sane rate of something like once every 1-5 seconds.
You can also make graphs, which is going to help you and your staff follow whats happening in each zone of the nursery much easier.
Here is an example of a PAC Display window of a building with Opto 22 controls in it, note how the AC is broken down into zones;

Think of it as one green house and its broken down into zones, showing perhaps temperature or water… Really, its just an example to give you a feel of what can be done.
You can click on each zone and get more data from there, and also open a trend, here is an example of that graph screen;

Note this is also a good example of a bad example… I have chosen a really bad time scale for this trend. Make sure you pick a time scale that clearly shows the data points. (The manual makes this clear… Yeah, I should have RTFM’ed (Read The Fantastic Manual).

I guess my concluding point is that what you are looking to use Opto for in the nursery is exactly what the product is designed for.
The nice thing about it is that you can get started with a basic control system and graphics and expand it as your knowledge grows and as you see the power of putting an automation system into action at your nursery.

If you are still needing a bit a of a leg up, consider downloading the PAC Project Demo, it will get you started with no hardware and give you a feel for what and how Opto can do the do.


I think Caleb is talking about flowers and fruits in his nurseries not babies and intensive care, but I suppose its the same thing! BTW. You weren’t involved in the calibration of the alcohol level measurement equipment as used by Henry Bolte, by any chance? :wink:


No, not me, plenty of stories around the place, but it was all a little before my time.
You on the other hand… where exactly were you on the 25th of March 1984???

“I was in bed all day!”

Another requirement for these types of projects is a programmable calender where various programs need setting up for every day and every sprinkler, considering weekdays, holidays, non working days and watered product. I remember being amused that these could ever be important to vegetables, but there is logic behind the madness.

The obvious method is to create a calender array in persistent variables for each irrigation zone, on times-off times, but from experience I can tell you this gets pretty complicated, when you fully understand how a large-scale installation work. Most custom solutions I have seen have a complete database app running on a PC which is continually consulted for sprinkler scheduling in conjunction with weather predictions and actual temperature / humidity conditions.

We finally hit on the idea of creating a “standard day” for each “product” and then a list of “non standard days”, which cuts down the memory requirements to near zero and makes the whole scheduling control storable locally in a PAC.