Scientists tackling software-based optimisation of plant growth in horticulture

Ton Baltissen, researcher at Wageningen University and Research Centre, in the Netherlands, who works in the Applied plant research (PPO) department, gives youris.com the low down on the advantages of relying on software management to optimise nursery plant growth and predicts what is likely to come next.

Interview By Phys.org:


What is the difference between the level of computerisation of glasshouse nurseries and outside nurseries?

In the Netherlands, the complete nursery stock area is about 20,000 hectares. Only a small part of nurseries are in greenhouses, less than 5%. Outside there's more mechanisation than computerisation, mainly used to make the labour easier, for logistics and for weed control. In the last years, the trend is going toward using sensing technologies for precision agriculture, for example assessing the moisture content of the soil. By contrast, in glasshouses and container fields' nurseries, it is easier to control growth. We have greater mechanisation and automatization than outdoors also partly because of the high cost of labour in the country. This allows the control of the air, water, oxygen, nutrients. There is also an element of robotics coming in, which we do not see outside.


The software helps control growth, get a better crop quality, ensure fewer fertilisers are required and analyse actions and costs to develop new growing strategies. Besides, information about the amount of water given, the time it is being given, the quality of the water, gets registered by the software. As a result, you can learn from it year-on-year and also compare data with other growers.



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