As part of the project ‘Digital Twins for decision support in tomato cultivation’, being carried out by the Greenhouse Horticulture and Flower Bulbs Business Unit of Wageningen University & Research in Bleiswijk, a 3D simulation of the greenhouse and crop is being developed.
A Digital Twin is a real-time computer simulation of, for example, a growing crop. This means that a grower can calculate the effect of a cultivation measure and later decide whether or not to actually take that measure. Developing such a Digital Twin requires a number of things, such as a good simulation model and many sensors in the greenhouse.
Before the computer model can be used for decision support, it must first be validated, which is achieved using a large number of sensors for measuring, amongst other things, the climate, plant weight, weight of the substrate, head thickness, sugar content in the leaf, evaporation and temperature. WUR uses standard equipment and hyperspectral and stereovision cameras, as well as AI for image processing.
The sensors pass on the data to the computer model in real time, with the weight of the plants measured every five minutes. To ensure robust data, the sensors must be optimally placed in the greenhouse, and the speed of the data connection must be taken into account (many sensors need 4G to transmit data), as well as possible obstacles that can disrupt the connection and a lot of server space.
All sensors required for the three year project have now been installed, meaning that the computer model can be filled with cultivation data. According to project leader Pieter de Visser, the advantage of this is that the model can then support cultivation decisions that are well attuned to the crop situation. The tomato variety Marinice is being used in the trial which is being carried out in partnership with funders Top Sector Horticulture & Propagation Materials, Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands, Ridder, Sobolt and Fluence, OnePlanet and Stoffel Trading.
WUR is also researching Digital Twins in cucumber and chrysanthemum cultivation.