How Smart Cameras May Predict Future Development of Cuttings
Beltech, a Dutch company that specializes in a variety of industrial applications using vision technology, recently rolled out a project at a young plant growing operation that was looking to improve the quality of the cuttings it produces.
“Multi-spectral cameras are able to register light both visible and invisible to the human eye, ranging from ultraviolet on one side to infrared on the other,” says Ron van Dooren of Beltech. “Think of cameras depicting warmth, making it possible to see whether or not a house is isolated well. The same technique is used in the fresh produce industry, for example to see through a cucumber and detect possible internal damages, which do not yet show on the surface.”
Applied to Cuttings
One Dutch plant grower believes this vision technology might also improve the quality of the vegetative propagation material he produces.
“We are investigating to what extent the quality of the plant-to-be can be predicted,” van Dooren says. “Ideally this technique offers a possibility to separate strong from lesser quality in an early stage.”
Once the technology is installed, testing can start and is expected to take several weeks, as predictions will only show later, once the cutting actually develops.
“Three questions are key for us to have the camera work properly: it should be able to distinguish which one is good, which one is not good, and where good borders bad,” van Dooren says. “From there, the software we built making machine self-learning possible should be optimized.”
One of the challenges, van Dooren notes, is specifying the exact wavelengths that will tell the future. This is complicated, because the predictive value of specific wavelengths might differ by plant. Once these two requirements are met, van Dooren says Beltech will be able to build a machine that will pay for itself in no time.
Technology Will Help
In the future of greenhouse production, technology won’t outsmart human intelligence, van Dooren believes. However, efficiency will grow, and waste will be minimized.
“As long as these are the reasons motivating us, we are on the right track,” van Dooren says. “As the world population grows and environmental requirements get ever more strict, improving technology is the way to tackle these issues.”