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Wim van Vliet, Klaver4ICT:

"Digital green thumbs are the future of greenhouse horticulture"

It once started for Wim van Vliet with the replacement of a continuously paper-spitting printer from a climate computer through a connection to a personal computer. This was 21 years ago and the pioneer in the field of data in greenhouse horticulture is looking ahead. "Growers with green thumbs will be overtaken by computers with digital green thumbs."

Klimlink, the system developed by Wim with which ever more data from increasingly more different sources in greenhouse horticulture have become transparent over the years, is in the meantime being used worldwide. Wim: "I recently purchased a map of the world on which I prick the pins for all the countries in which Klimlink is used. It is nice to see that there are lots of pins, spread all around the world."

Wim has always been committed to data collection, even if it was difficult. "It started with six growers who were eager to compare their company data. This then grew into a system that was used by some 250 growers at a certain time."

Meanwhile, through increase of scale, the sharing of data has become increasingly sensitive. When Wim got ownership of Klimlink in 2013 after an interruption of a few years, the direction was adjusted. "I started to realize that 'big data', at that time was not as familiar as it is now, will be the future. If you can collect sufficient and the correct cultivation data, you are holding gold. That is why I have placed the emphasis of Klimlink more on data distribution."

That became the beginning of the Klimlink DataService. "At the very beginning of Klimlink, I managed to make the link between all the different types of climate computers with Klimlink, but after that succeeded, a new challenge emerged. Because there is a strong growth of autonomous sensors that can be linked with Klimlink, so that new data are made available to the grower. "It is becoming increasingly possible to see how a plant is feeling itself and on the basis of that to make decisions for the cultivation."

"With the DataService it is also possible, for example, to send cultivation data to cultivation advisers without the need to log into a climate computer. This way a crop advisor no longer runs the risk of being held responsible when problems with a crop arise. After all he will not be able to change the settings of the climate computer."

"Now I can log into computer systems anywhere in the world to install the necessary Klimlink software for on-site data collection. And it also occurs that I log into a Chinese or Japanese computer and suddenly am confronted with a language that I cannot read. Nowadays I also know how to install the software on such a computer. Klimlink relieves the user from the data, so that he does not have to have knowledge of climate computer brands, sensor links and foreign languages."

"In the future the need for growers with green thumbs will decrease and the current climate computers will also be overtaken everywhere. Powerful computers with useful tools in the cloud will become the new digital green thumbs that will take over from growers and climate computers. In other countries you can already see that. There is much less historical cultivation knowledge than in the Netherlands and much more is being cultivated on the basis of these types of systems. In the future, cultivation will be further optimized with the use of these tools, thanks to the Big Data that Klimlink continuously delivers."

Threat or opportunity?
In the Netherlands, according to Wim, this development is received much more conservatively. "Many growers do not believe in it or see it as a threat, while in fact it offers many opportunities. On the other hand, Wim also understands the fear for these developments, because we are becoming very dependent on these ‘all-dominating computers’. However, Wim sees it as a sign that during the Autonomous Greenhouses Challenge, which is held this year and whereby cucumbers are cultivated in greenhouses that can only be controlled remotely, few Dutch people have moved on to the final stage. "And that in spite of the fact that the Netherlands has cultivation knowledge in abundance and yet is a forerunner in the field of greenhouse horticulture."

For more information:

Wim van Vliet

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