The Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge is approaching the finishing line. In less than two weeks, the winner will be announced. Team AuTomatoes is working hard to increase the crop yield, while maintaining the crop quality and taste, as they take their final sprint.
Team AuTomatoes consists of consultants, data scientists, engineers, researchers, and students from TU Delft, Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects, KeyGene, and Hoogendoorn Growth Management. All team members are experts in their own field of knowledge and have different perspectives, which sometimes caused heated discussions. During the course of the Challenge the team members regularly tested each other to make sure that what they assumed as the truth was in fact the truth. In April, for example, they had many discussions about the algorithms controlling the lighting. When should the lights be turned on? And what light levels should be maintained?
The keyword to describe the Challenge for team AuTomatoes is balance. They had to find the right balance of growth factors to create a balanced greenhouse climate and a balanced crop. In addition, they had to find the right balance between quality and quantity to achieve the highest possible net profit. For this, they decided the taste and quality of the tomatoes were the leading factors. After all, good quality tomatoes with good taste provide a better price. However, at the same time, quantity should not be overlooked. In finding the right balances, the team decided not to go for the easy way, but always search for the limits; how far can we go?
Because of their differences, the team members learned a lot from each other, and developed their knowledge and expertise during the Challenge. This triggered new ideas, with which they developed new and innovative solutions that can be used by growers to optimize crop growth. These solutions provide growers with a larger span of control and give them peace of mind. Of course, we will share these solutions after the Challenge has ended.
All knowledge and expertise aside, the real star of the team was the cherry tomato crop. In everything the team did, the crop was the focus of attention. All algorithms were focused on improving the conditions for the crop; to empower the crop and keep it in balance. The team effort made to achieve this common goal allowed the crop to grow and flourish at its best capabilities.