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Application of plant sensors explained further

Peter Goudswaard works as a product developer at Blue Radix. He designs, analyzes and improves the functionalities of Crop Controller and data-driven energy services. Here he discusses exploring the application of crop sensors in the TKI research project, ‘The Road to Digital Green Fingers’.

What does ‘The Road to Digital Green Fingers’ project involve?
Blue Radix is one of the initiators of the TKI project, ‘The Road to Digital Green Fingers’. The project is developing an integrated measurement system to monitor crop reactions in real time. Last year a department cultivating truss tomatoes at the Delphy Improvement Centre was monitored intensively using sensors, and this was analyzed by the project group.*

Why is Blue Radix participating in a sensor research project?
Increasingly, sensors are coming onto the market that perform measurements on the crop or climate at the micro level. All this crop data provides a wealth of information about the crop reaction. Interpretation is often time-consuming for growers, and there’s often a lack of real knowledge about the value of the sensor data. Blue Radix is researching the combination of smart algorithms that can be used to translate the data into prediction models and the necessary changes to the climate. This gives the grower more control over the cultivation strategy. It prevents growers reverting away from the sensors after a while. Ultimately, Blue Radix wants to apply it to autonomous growing.

What sensors are used?
Last year’s cultivation was monitored using sensors for three basic processes: water uptake, production and the distribution of assimilates. Among other things this involves load-cells that measure the stem weight continuously, a juice flow meter, and a stem diameter. Data is also collected on leaf temperature, microclimate and PAR-light, measuring active radiation above the crop. Analyzing this sensor data integrally also lets you view crop reactions in the context of climate and irrigation. This is how we considered whether we could measure the crop reactions under different conditions: varying CO2 dosing, increasing night temperature, substantial truss pruning or even removing bunches.

The crop reacted really strongly in some tests, which was reflected clearly in the sensor data. Ultimately, we would be able to see a crop reaction in the sensor data, which was only visible to the naked eye after a few days.

What remains to be done, and when will the project be completed?
Blue Radix’s algorithms will control the greenhouse climate of the current crop autonomously until September 2021. We want to use the crop sensor measurements for monitoring, and then see how we can integrate them in the autonomous crop management of Crop Controller. 


In short:

Name: The road to Digital Green Fingers, TKI project with financial support from Top Sector Horticulture & Starting Materials

Goal: Is it possible to develop digital green fingers, so that sensors measure the crop status continuously and algorithms translate these into adjustments to the greenhouse climate?

Project duration: Beginning 2019 to end 2021

Project participants: * Delphy and Wageningen University & Research, Blue Radix, 2Grow, De Ruiter Seeds, Hazera Seeds, Signify and Ludvig Svensson.

Blue Radix has taken over the activities within the project from AgroEnergy from September this year.