Four of the most exciting technologies and uses for robotics in the horticultural industry have been highlighted by AHDB.
New technologies have been capturing the imaginations of growers in recent years.
Their adoption in greenhouses across Europe is becoming more and more common as the industry becomes more efficient and battles labour concerns.
AHDB visited GreenTech RAI conference in Amsterdam and highlighted four of the promising upcoming tech.
Automation and robotics
With an increase in interest in autonomous greenhouse systems, it’s no surprise that robotics and automation systems were popular with the crowds at GreenTech 2019.
One robot that attracted a lot of attention was the Lowpad automated guided vehicle.
Designed to carry heavy loads on roll containers, racks or pallets, this autonomous vehicle can even drop off empty pallets to workers.
Another robot taking on hard work of another sort is the Plantalyzer, a robot which tackles the traditionally time-intensive task of determining the ripeness of tomato crops.
The Plantalyzer is one of the many robots showcased at the event which formed part of intelligent yield prediction systems.
Yield prediction itself forms part of another trend from this year’s GreenTech event: integrated automated greenhouse management systems.
One such system, the Automated Greenhouse Management platform from ecoation, combines autonomous and human scouting vehicles with intelligent decision-making software to gain real-time insight and optimise everything from labour, yield prediction and climate control.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Real-time insight into greenhouse growing was a hot topic at this year’s event, with many technologies competing to offer the most elegant and simple solutions to the most difficult-to-track areas, such area is IPM.
It’s no wonder that Natutec Scout from Koppert Biological Systems took home the coveted GreenTech Innovation Award.
Natutec Scout combines a mobile phone app and dashboard to offer instant insight into the integrated pest management (IPM) situation of greenhouse growers
Growers use their mobile phone to take a picture of Horiver sticky traps. The app then uses image recognition software to count the number of insects on the crop.
Then, the farmers checks the Natutec dashboard for a detailed overview of the insects in their greenhouse.
Alerts can even be sent when pest numbers reach potentially harmful levels.
Innovative new technologies such as Natutec Scout provide essential insights for precision growing, which was another focus area for the event.
e-Gro from Grodan takes data from harvesting and inputs from sensors to monitor things like root zone and climate.
The software platform then offers growers recommendations for optimisation through a real-time dashboard.
This integrated, data-driven approach to power precision growing requires a substantial time investment from growers, but adoption promises some serious efficiency improvements.
Recently, vertical farming has hit the news in the UK and the event, too, was buzzing with interest in the future of this emerging approach to growing.
And, as with any emerging approach, the focus was on optimisation of existing systems.
Companies like Bever Innovations were showcasing new cultivation systems which integrate LEDs into vertical farm trays.
The main advantage being lower heat generation from the LED banks and a better spread of light to encourage uniform growing.