Growers supported via new technology

After six months of data analysis, crop monitoring, and algorithm development, the winner of the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge was announced on June 8: team AuTomatoes won the Challenge.

Two of the AuTomatoes team members and Hoogendoorn colleagues were asked about their personal experience with the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge.

The Challenge took Hoogendoorn consultant Rene Beerkens back to his roots: “I am a grower’s son. Although I have been working in greenhouse automation for 20 years now, supporting growers worldwide to grow their plants in an optimal way is still my passion. The Challenge made me realize again what a grower is dealing with day and night. And I loved doing it. It was great to translate all our latest research and knowledge into automated algorithms and to monitor the progress of our applied strategy on our crop just by numbers and images. It really enabled us to accomplish things that weren’t possible 10 years ago, all because of technology development.”

The Challenge made Hoogendoorn data analyst Evripidis Papadopoulos feel more confident about his algorithm development. “It was a great, intense Challenge during which we as a team performed at our best. In the beginning I was not sure if the algorithms we created were going to work. However, after a certain time our algorithms were performing perfectly, which gave us a lot of energy to keep working on creating new algorithms and finding the details. At the end, our plan worked and resulted in Team AuTomatoes winning the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge. The jury saying that our AI strategy could be used in practice, was a great confirmation. Not just for me, but for the whole team. I was already convinced it was possible, and then the jury confirmed that our strategy is applicable worldwide. I learned a lot! One of the most important things for me was that I found out what a grower needs to check daily in order to make his greenhouse function properly. I pay full respect to them. This is the reason why I will keep innovating to make their life easier by our data driven growing approach.”

All team members look back on the Challenge with pride and happiness. They are proud on what they achieved and how they worked together. Evripidis: “Starting point is the combination of knowledge and experience being gained through data analysis. Then you let the plant find its own optimal way being assisted by our new innovative algorithms. I am really happy regarding the result of the challenge. That’s team work, hence I would not have wished for better team members!”

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