Walking around the greenhouse and inspecting the plants is a routine job for growers. Equipped with a notepad and an EC meter, growers are doing their job. Feeling, smelling, seeing: "Hey, seems like a pest" and "oh, those plants look kind of dry". Let's write that down. But then... a quick phone call in between and before the grower realizes it, he either forgets about it or loses the note.
By using Log & Solve, a digital cultivation manual and logbook developed by substrate manufacturer Klasmann-Deilmann, forgetting or losing is a thing of the past. And that will certainly help growers to optimize their cultivation, says Co-Anne van Waaij.
Over the past 2.5 years, she has been closely involved in the development of the tool that makes it possible to collect various relevant crop data in one central place and thereby gain new insights. "Log & Solve also helps the grower to gradually make the transition to more renewable raw materials in Klasmann-Deilmann's substrates. The new recipes require some cultivation adjustments. Log & Solve helps with this. With the digital cultivation logbook, a grower can monitor the cultivation using, among other things, notes, photos, soil samples to track the nutrient status of the crop and moisture sensors for the water balance in the new mixture.”
Co-Anne visiting a grower
Fast and hands-on rollout
Log & Solve was rolled out internationally in 2020. Pretty quick for an entirely new tool for which development started halfway through 2018. “We have chosen for a lean startup method. This means that you enter the market quickly”, says Fons van Nierop, Head of Sales at Klasmann-Deilmann Benelux. “This way, you can build a system very precisely with the practical knowledge.” Co-Anne: "All the features that are now included matter and are based on the ideas of growers and what they encounter in practice.”
They started by visiting the growers. This yielded three challenges. Growers indicated that they had no place to build and safeguard their cultivation specific knowledge, to increasingly receive data from sources that are not interconnected, and often solve problems in a reactive way instead of being able to prevent it. Log & Solve must deal with these challenges.
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Multiple choice and photos
A dozen growers were given the opportunity to test the first version(s) of the tool in practice. "We learned a lot from that," says Co-Anne. “For example, it was clear that growers wanted a multiple-choice option when entering data on the mobile phone. In the greenhouse, this is faster than typing and you also avoid confusion, for example about cutting/trimming. An example of two words that are used interchangeably in practice as it turned out.”
Photos are also important in the logbook. "Photos give growers a good idea of how the cultivation is progressing or they help to capture a certain deficiency with an image. By using QR codes for the lots, a scan of the QR with your mobile can immediately let you add a note or photo to the logbook.”
Many different cultivations in one overview. Click here to enlarge
Log & Solve enables growers to continuously learn from previous cultivation cycles. “By recording data digitally, it is easier to look back at it in two years to see how things were going. This can be done in the 'logbook' which is automatically generated per cultivation after capturing notes, photos, and data such as substrate analyses and weather data. In addition, the comparison tool was recently launched. This tool allows you to compare different cultivations. By comparing the logs, the grower discovers differences and the lessons can be used in a new cultivation cycle.”
Integrated into the tool is the Basic Fertilizing Advice to provide ground samples with target values for the entire cultivation history. "This way, trends can be identified and possibly the cause of problems related to the nutritional status of the crop as well.”
Growers would rather prevent than cure. "Being proactive was something the growers were clear about. With the large amounts of data that are available nowadays about a crop this is possible, but it is important to bundle the data. That's what we did. As a result, growers can set up notifications and get a preview of their cultivation based on past data.”
Growers pay an annual fee for using Log & Solve depending on their use and for up to three cultivation pages the platform is free. "Depending on how many cultivations they follow and the add-ons that growers want to use, they pay extra," says Co-Anne. Click here to enlarge
An additional advantage of notifications and the logbook is that even if the main grower is sick or leaves, the quality of the cultivation is guaranteed. “With ever-growing greenhouses, the risk of a failed batch or cultivation is too great nowadays. Log & Solve can serve as a manual that collects data on substrate selection, pests, fertilization, irrigation, and outdoor weather. You can think of it as a cultivation standard for a grower. Also, it is useful if there are multiple locations and you strive for standard product quality.”
Unique to Log & Solve is that growers can go into great detail about their cultivation. "Useful for growers with many different varieties of pot plants, but also a strawberry grower with multiple varieties and different planting schedules. Other systems provide data for an entire greenhouse, we can help the grower to zoom in on a specific batch.”
For hard results, as in "after using Log & Solve I had ten percent less fallout" it is too early. Although it may happen in the future. “We continue to develop Log & Solve and are for example busy with building in ‘smart alerts’. As soon as that feature is released, the users can immediately make use of it."
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Co-Anne van Waaij