From traditional to Data Driven Growing
02 June 2020
How LetsGrow.com guides companies towards a digital and data-driven future.
Around the globe, companies and governments are heavily investing in both new and existing greenhouses as well as crop growing expertise. They aim to meet the increased demand for availability of (quality) food in a world that enjoys a growing population. In effect, this also spurs the demand for horticultural knowledge; especially how to grow efficiently and optimally. Taking advantage of the latest technological advances, LetsGrow.com empowers growers through its Data Driven Growing (DDG) expertise and platform. Data collected by growers has great value and a real-time, practical use for their daily and long-term growing strategies.
LetsGrow.com customers have seen great results directly resulting from their newly implemented DDG strategy. Typically, customers require 20% less water, gas and fertiliser while increasing their overall production by over 10%.
Key to the success of these projects are in great part the growers themselves. Their crops are telling them a story through data, and the challenge is figuring out what that story is and how it can guide their efforts towards the common goal. Which is typically to answer the question: “How efficient can we be with our resources to get the full benefit from our growing efforts?” The grower can focus on any aspect: optimising quality; increasing production; limiting energy-usage; or all of them combined. It really is their choice. LetsGrow.com empower them to answer that question through an extensive training period. In this period, we train the grower in plant physiology and data interpretation. After all, each grower’s situation is unique and it requires a true understanding of the underlying growing mechanics to get optimal results.
Another thing that is great about DDG is that its benefits are not limited to major horticultural companies with big training and hardware budgets. Growers with limited experience can also reap results. Start reading from “Getting started with Data Driven Growing” for the explanation supporting this claim.
In short: Capturing your data centrally, combined with getting the required DDG training, solves some of the challenges that growers as well as investors are facing. It supports long-term predictability of the growing process and outcome, and captures knowledge centrally; easily shared with any grower or colleague of your choosing.
Getting started with Data Driven Growing
Although the potential of Data Driven Growing is evident to many growers, knowing where to start can be tricky. An example of an effective Data Driven Growing framework is Plant Empowerment. It is the most powerful framework available to us today and LetsGrow.com is currently pioneering it together with six implementation partners. These implementation partners cover all facets of the growing process (e.g., climate systems, screening, substrates).
To summarise the requirements to grow in a data-driven way, there are three key factors to success.
First, it requires an understanding of the basic principles of Plant Empowerment and how to translate them into concrete growing strategies. Plant Empowerment combines objective information (data) with domain knowledge (plant physiology) which the grower can use to analyse and optimise processes. It is an integrated approach to sustainably grow crops in greenhouses by supporting the plant’s balances. Plants have evolved to produce fruit and flowers efficiently and sustainably by design. As a grower, why not empower them to do just that? There is an entire book dedicated to this topic; intended to serve as a practical growing guide.
Secondly, the ideal data-driven grower possesses both a willingness and an open-mindedness to make changes. These two qualities work best combined with an action-oriented mind-set. In part, because they have to ensure that consistent and reliable data collection takes place. Additionally, the transition may require major changes in the way they and their colleagues currently think and grow crops. There is no way of knowing in advance how many optimisations could be achieved; it may stretch far beyond initial expectations. With support from DDG experts, the customer’s crops can tell their story through data and lead the way for their growers.
Thirdly, the grower and/or investor has to decide what level of data is captured and how it is measured. To clarify this with a metaphor, let’s think of entering a car race open to all growers. The car is your hardware, the driver is you or your grower, the Plant Empowerment framework explains the physics at work (e.g., aerodynamics), and LetsGrow.com is able to offer training and advice on what car you need based on your budget and what the driver should know to drive more effectively.
Theoretically, any working car is capable of driving. Similarly, any abled person is capable of driving a car. However, one would not expect to achieve the same speed with a Honda as one would with a Ferrari. Furthermore, owning a fast car definitely increases your odds of winning, but only a fully trained and experienced race car driver could achieve optimal results. Still, having a car and a driver allows you to enter and enjoy the race. Every time you invest effectively – even with smaller investments, such as new tires with better grip or training on how to take great turns – your odds of winning increase. LetsGrow.com is able to support the grower with all of these elements based on their personal goals and budget.
Once a true understanding of the growing process and data is established, the grower could even take it a step further by (partially) automating the growing process. With the availability of Artificial Intelligence, LetsGrow.com is able to create self-learning, customer-specific models that offer ever-increasingly accurate predictions of yield outcome and what the optimal growing parameters are. Regardless of the resulting advice, the final decision-making will always be done by the grower.
How does LetsGrow.com support with Data Driven Growing?
LetsGrow.com not only offers a central, open and secure data platform called MyLetsGrow, but also end-to-end data services. While MyLetsGrow provides you with the tools to capture your data and perform basic analysis activities, it is our team of DDG experts who can take you and your data to the next level. We always customise our approach to fit the specific needs, circumstances and strategy of your business.