Technical approach wins strawberry growing contest

A competition to grow greenhouse strawberries, arranged and sponsored by Chinese tech company Pinduoduo, has seen teams which relied on technology and automation produce 196 per cent more fruit by weight compared to teams based on human growers making decisions.

The results echo those of the Dutch greenhouse automation competition held earlier this year, with the Pinduoduo competition showing that the tech teams also provided a 75.5 per cent better return on investment on average.

The four-month competition, which ended at the end of November, was won by CyberFarmer.HortiGraph, a team made up of researchers from the China Agricultural University and National Agriculture Intelligence Equipment Engineering Technical Research Centre. It was one of four tech-based teams, which employed data analysis, intelligent sensors and greenhouse automation, and which produced an average of 6.86 kilograms of strawberries, or 196 per cent more than the 2.32 kilograms average for the three teams of traditional growers.

“This competition was a successful journey for the team to explore how technology can be used in agriculture,” said Lin Sen, the team leader for CyberFarmer.HortiGraph and a researcher based at Beijing’s National Engineering Research Center for Information Technology in Agriculture.

“Technology is the force multiplier that helps both the people who grow the food and the people who eat it,” added Andre Zhu, senior vice president of Pinduoduo. “Investing in agriculture benefits the greatest number of people. We are happy to play the role of matchmaker and enabler.”

Photo source: Pinduoduo

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