Growficient supplies a so-called ‘plug-and-play’ system that supports growers in monitoring and optimizing their irrigation strategy. They can be used in vegetable crops such as cucumber, pepper, and tomato, as well as in soft fruit crops like strawberry. Now, Growficient has decided to join forces with Van der Knaap Group on the Chinese market. Both parties have agreed on granting Van der Knaap Group the sole rights for Growficient sensors in China.

Dirk Jan Mulder and Mao Liu sigh the cooperation papers

Substrate sensors
The sensors enable growers to gain insight into what is happening in the (coco) substrate, by measuring not only moisture content but also EC value and temperature.
In 2020, large-scale tests were carried out with Growficient sensors in Van der Knaap Group’s innovation center 'de Kas'. At the end of 2019, both parties expressed their intention to jointly investigate how the sensors can be optimally used in Van der Knaap's fine and coarse coco substrates.

The use of sensors in coco substrate was, in contrast to using stone wool, not possible until then. “Several tests with different brands of sensors in coco substrates have been carried out in innovation center 'de Kas'. These turned out to be unreliable, not scalable, or the data could not be processed properly. Particularly the coarse structure of coco, which contains a lot of air, caused the data to be insufficiently reliable on a regular basis,” Mao Liu with Van der Knaap explains.

The sensors made by Growficient were also extensively tested, and proved to be very reliable in their measurements, in both fine and coarse coco substrate. In the past year, the sensors were used in vegetable crops such as cucumber, pepper, and tomato, as well as in soft fruit crops like strawberries. This concerned substrates that consisted entirely of coco material, but also mixtures of coco and peat. The weighing scale developed by Forteco was used as a reference for the data.

Growficient sensors
After placement, the Growficient sensors immediately start sending data. The data is sent from the wireless sensors to a receiver with a 4G connection. The sensors carry out a measurement every five minutes, whereby growers can determine the lower and upper values themselves. When the measured values exceed the set parameters, the alarm function is triggered. The sensors are able to measure not only the moisture content but also the EC value, temperature in the substrate, and even just above it. All sensors in the greenhouse are linked in the system to provide a complete picture. The data is plotted in clear graphs. It is even possible to have a third party look at the data, for instance, a crop advisor.

“By measuring properly, a clear picture is created of what is happening in the substrate, around the roots. With the data from the sensors, it is possible to optimize the watering and fertilization strategy, which benefits the results: less loss and a higher quality of the crop. Several of Van der Knaap's customers are now using the system and gaining experience with it,” Dirk Jan Mulder with Growficient says.

For more information:
Van der Knaap