Cherry Tomato Plantation in the Netherlands

Abstract

Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge Project illustrates a case on AI and IoT-enabled cherry tomato production at a greenhouse enabled by Seeed’s SenseCAP LoRaWAN sensors and gateway.

Partners

Seeed Studio, Tencent, WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY & RESEARCH, AiCU

As there has been a continuous decline in arable lands in the past decades due to human-made disasters and climate change, it is utmostly important for us to produce food more sustainably and efficiently. One of such methods is growing food inside greenhouses, as quoted by WUR: “Production volumes in greenhouses are typically up to 10 times higher than in the open field. At the same time, greenhouse production uses much less water compared to open fields.”

Similarly, the UN recognized the potential of greenhouse farming for generating stable income for farmers in the countryside, the World Economic Forum (WEF) also shared increasing urban farming trends amid the COVID-19. Indeed, we, as individuals, organizations, and enterprises, need to be prepared for the changing world affected by various force-majeure situations. By making modern techniques and systems such as AI and IoT more accessible, one of the most traditional industries like agriculture, can be transformed. Whether it is outdoor farming, tea growing on high mountains, fruit and vegetable cultivation, or any other categories of husbandry, technology can play a role in increasing efficiency, decreasing resource inputs, and incorporating sustainability to protect our environment, people, and the planet.

What’s the Project About?

In 2020, AiCU, one of our partners (Figure 2), won 2nd place at an event called “Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge September 2019 – June 2020” in Bleiswijk, the Netherlands. This event was aimed at inviting computer scientists and horticulture experts to challenge themselves, cutting-edge technologies, and manual greenhouse production, towards making a fully autonomous greenhouse operation possible. The event was jointly organized by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and Tencent, with the goal of finding the best intelligent planting solution of cherry tomatoes, remote control of greenhouse crop production, and the best net profit optimization strategies in an autonomous greenhouse via deploying AI algorithms and sensors.

WUR is an academic partnership between Wageningen University and the Wageningen Research Foundation in the Netherlands. It is dedicated to healthy food and sustainable living environment research for government agencies and the business sector. Through incorporating academic research, real-life applications, innovative ideas, and diverse technology deployment, WUR creates scientific breakthroughs in the food and agriculture industry. WUR’s core values include society and wellbeing, natural resources and living environment, and bio-based food production, while emphasizing sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) values.

Tencent is a world-leading Chinese IT company, specializing in innovative product development and services to upgrade people’s quality of living globally through their communication APPs, video games, high-quality digital contents, FinTech, cloud computing, and so on. Ever since its foundation in 1998, Tencent has been dedicated to using its “technology for good”.

Since 2018, WUR and Tencent have been partnering to organize challenge-based events to inspire the adoption of AI and IoT in cultivating food produce with less inputs of resources. In 2019, our IIoT product, the SenseCAP series, has been deployed by AiCU Team to monitor environmental data within the greenhouse, where cherry tomatoes are cultivated during the 6 months-long period of the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge Project (Figure 3).

During the Autonomous Greenhouse International Challenge Project, WUR provided all the 5 teams with the same facilities and equipment, including greenhouse compartments, cherry tomato “Axiany” seedlings, substrates, lightings, advanced greenhouse simulators, some basic sensors, and the like. On the basis of these fundamental gadgets, each team was able to add extra sensors and cameras as needed. For this Project, data collected by the sensors are crucial to reflect the inner condition of the greenhouse, and precise control of the parameters can determine the growing status of the plants. By combining data with their own ICTs and machine learning algorithms, each team independently made decisions on the environmental settings of the greenhouse, such as lighting, temperature, humidity, CO2 concentration, nutrients, irrigation patterns, ventilation periods, etc. All the decisions made by the teams will determine their inputs and outputs, which would ultimately determine who would win the Challenge, based on what the Challenge Coordinator, Dr. Silke Hemming, describes as the 5 standards: “high quality, high yield, low-energy consumption, automation, and technology transferability” (Figure 4).

Challenge or problem: How to produce cherry tomatoes in a greenhouse with higher quality using less resources?
Solution: As for the AiCU team, their professional expertise lies within crop modeling, plant physiology, electronic engineering, AI, and machine learning. Such a multidisciplinary background enables them to make the best use of data collected from the SenseCAP sensors to make decisions from various perspectives. Among the many parameters, the following data – soil moisture (VWC), soil temperature, electrical conductivity (EC), photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) – is collected and monitored by SenseCAP LoRaWAN sensors and gateways (Figure 5).
Result: During the 6 months of this challenge competition, the AiCU team skillfully built their own algorithms and models based on the data feed from the sensors. Thus, optimal decisions were made in controlling conditions of the greenhouse (Figure 6). As a result of this Challenge, we are finally able to see the value of smart agricultural decision-making, automated greenhouse control technologies, smart farming, and their potential to alleviate farmers’ and food producers’ burdens in the future (Figure 7). When talking about the role of sensors, Liang Li, the Chief Programmer of AiCU team described them as: “Seeed SenseCap sensors provide excellent real-time measurement accuracy, as well as easy installation in built-up greenhouses, thanks to its battery-powered wireless operation. The API allows us to integrate the sensors smoothly in our own software system. It was a good experience to work with Seeed SenseCap, and we’re looking forward to deploying it in more competitions and production greenhouses.”
Platform(s) Included in Success Story: AiCU Dedicated Platform
Device(s) Included in Success Story: These LoRaWAN sensors: 1. Soil Temperature, VWC & EC Sensor 2. PAR Sensor
Additional Components Included in Success Story: SenseCAP Gateway - LoRaWAN
Industries (Solutions):
Focus: Sub-Metering
Agriculture
Cities & Municipalities
Health & Healthcare
Infrastructure
Energy & Heating
Logistics
Manufacturing
Production
Properties & Buildings
Retail
Security & Safety
Other
Functionality (Devices):
ACCELERATION
AIR HUMIDITY
AIR PARTICLES
AIR PRESSURE
AIR TEMPERATURE
ANALOG INPUT TRANSMITTER
BAROMETRIC PREASSURE
BUTTON / SWITCH
CARBON MONIXIDE
CATTLE TRACKING
CHEMICAL
CO2
COLD CHAIN MANAGEMENT
DENDROMETER
DIGITAL INPUT TRANSMITTER
DIFFERENTIAL PRESSURE
DISTANCE
DOOR ACTIVITY
ELECTRICAL CONDUCTIVITY
ELECTRICITY METERING
GAS DETECTION
GAS METERING
GYROSCOPE
HUMIDITY
HVAC MONITORING
INCLINOMTETER
INDOOR ENVIRONMENT
INFRARED PYROMETER
IR
LEAF WETNESS
LEAKAGE
LEVEL
LIGHT
LIGHTNING AVERAGE DISTANCE
LIGHTNING STRIKE COUNT
LIQUID LEVEL
MBUS - LoRaWAN BRIDGE
MODBUS - LoRaWAN BRIDGE
MOISTURE
MOTION DETECTION
MOVEMENT
MULTI PURPOSE
NITRIC OXIDE
NITROGEN DIOXIDE
NOISE LEVEL
OCCUPANCY
OPEN / CLOSE
OPTICAL DISOLVED OXYGEN
OPTICAL PULSE COUNTER
OVERFLOW MONITORING
OXYGEN
OZONE
PAR LIGHT
PARKING OCCUPANCY
PARTICULATE MATTER (PM)
PASSAGE DETECTION
PEST CONTROL
pH LEVEL
PHOTOSYNTHETICALLY ACTIVE RADIATION
POSITION / TRACKING / GPS
PRESSURE
PROXIMITY
PULSE COUNTER
RAIN GAUGE
RELATIVE HUMIDITY
RELEASE BUTTON
REMOTE POWER SOCKET
REMOTE RADIATOR CONTROLLER
REMOTE VALVE
SALTINITY
SMOKE DETECTION
SOIL MOISTURE / IRRIGATION
SOIL TEMPERATURE
SOIL VOLUMETRIC WATER CONTENT (VWC)
SOLAR RADIATION
SOUND
STRAIN/WEIGHT
STRUCTURAL LOAD
STRUCTURAL TENSION
SURFACE TEMPERATURE
TEMPERATURE
TILT MONITORING
TURBIDITY
TVOC
VAPOR PRESSURE
VEHICLE COUNTER
VIBRATION
VOC
WASTE MANAGEMENT
WATER FAULT CIRCUIT BREAKER
WATER METERING
WATER TEMPERATURE
WEIGHING SCALE
WIND DIRECTION
WIND GUST
WIND SPEED
WINTER ROAD MAINTENANCE
Applicable Environment (Devices):
Indoor
Outdoor
IP Rating (Devices): IP66
Access technology: LoRaWAN
Certified members: Seeed Studio
Contact information: Contact: Andy DH Pan, Email: dahong.pan@seeed.cc
Company website: www.seeed.cc
Listing created Sep 28, 2021

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