A mission to discover greenhouse robots in Japan

From 10 to 15 July, RVO, in cooperation with the agricultural and innovation sections of the Netherlands Embassy in Tokyo, organized an innovation mission to Japan on greenhouse robotics. The Top Sector’s seed money project JaNeth Onshitsu Robotto formed part of the mission’s program as it shared the mission’s objective. By engaging with various Japanese growers, researchers, and government officials, the mission explored possibilities for joint research and development between the Netherlands and Japan.
The mission succeeded in harvesting interesting leads for potential joint collaborative projects, if possible, in the framework of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) program that could give follow-up to the seed money project.

The innovation mission consisted of some of the Netherlands’ leading horti-tech companies (Bom Group, Certhon, Hoogendoorn Growth Management, Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects), research institutes (WUR, WecR, TNO, One Planet Research Center), and representatives from Oost NL and LNV. Over the course of 5 days, which took the mission from Tokyo to Kyushu, the mission members met with representatives from some of Japan’s leading high-tech companies (NTT Agri Technology, Panasonic, Kubota, Yaskawa), interesting agri-related start-ups (AGRIST, GINZAFARM, i-eat, inaho), innovative growers and greenhouse facilities (Asai Nursery, AgriD, Aeon Agri Create, Yume Farm JA Zen-Noh) and research organizations (NARO, Ehime University, R&D Center for the Plant Factory of Osaka Metropolitan University). On the occasion of the mission, a subcommittee meeting of the bilateral Agricultural Policy Dialogue was held at MAFF with a focus on the topics of open innovation and international research collaboration. The mission concluded with a visit to one of Japan’s largest retailers, Aeon, to get an impression of how fresh produce is offered to the consumer.

The mission contributed to a better understanding of Japan’s greenhouse horticulture which is mainly characterized by small-scale, low to mid-tech cultivation. The mission also provided insights into the state of digitalization in horticulture, i.e., the use of data and the role of robotization in agriculture as well as in Japanese society at large. The overall impression of the mission members was that Japan’s robotics expertise provides interesting leads for collaboration. As the first step by way of follow-up to the Seed Money Project, some joint projects could be set up, potentially under a larger PPP program, with various use cases.

Seed Money Project “JaNeth Onshitsu Robotto” dinner 

During the Seed Money Project “JaNeth Onshitsu Robotto” dinner, NL and JP partners exchanged views about a potential collaboration.

The mission visited two tomato greenhouses from AEON (right) and NTT Agri Technology (left). 

The mission visited the greenhouse of Asai Nursery, where the real-time photosynthesis and transpiration monitoring system developed by Prof. Kotaro Takayama of Ehime University and the Toyohashi University of Technology is applied.

The mission visited the Robotics hub at Panasonic, where robots were on display to show the mission their technology to handle picking and sorting tomatoes and strawberries.

The mission went to Yaskawa’s robot village and to the greenhouse of Zen-Noh, a collaboration with Yaskawa on greenhouse robotics.

The last stop of the mission was at one of AEON’s supermarkets to see how fresh produce were put on display.

Source: agroberichtenbuitenland.nl

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