Greenhouse growers may still be grappling with how to potentially benefit from drone technology, but one plant breeder is charging ahead.
Beekenkamp Plants has entered into a partnership with the Netherlands-based Applied Drone Innovations, a start-up that develops greenhouse monitoring systems and collects and processes valuable data, with the aim of increasing crop quality.
Applied Drone Innovations works with a drone and a camera that can be placed on the tube-rail system in a greenhouse. Currently, the material from Applied Drone Innovations has been tested multiple times in the greenhouse at Beekenkamp Plants Vegetables in Maasdijk.
The first goal for Beekenkamp Plants Vegetables is to digitize the germ counts. The drone flies over the boxes or trays with open field crops and counts the misses (the seeds that don’t germinate).
The advantage of this is that no human mistakes can be made. The boxes or trays are randomly selected for germ counts, and all the boxes and trays will be checked with the drone and/or camera.
There are also frequently large batches of young plants in the greenhouse, which is difficult to walk through and makes it difficult to perform the germ counts in the middle of the batch. The drones can fly and the camera moves over the tube-rail system, so this is no longer a problem.
Both the Beekenkamp Plants research department and the IT department are involved in this project. The written software by Applied Drone Innovations must ultimately be linked to the software of Beekenkamp.
The ultimate goal is to make quality measurements based on data. For now, the biggest concern is quality measurements for germ counts.
The developments in the field of digitization are moving quickly. New technologies such as robotization, drones in the greenhouse, and autonomous cultivation ensure that more and more data is being generated. With research and collaboration, Beekenkamp Plants is looking to ensure that it continues to innovate.