Demokwekerij Westland (part of World Horti Center) was one of the first to work with Plantonomy. World Horti Center had been involved in the development for years. For the past year, they’ve been testing Plantonomy on growing tomatoes. It takes over a big part of the growers’ work by handling all climate-related tasks. We are curious to hear about their experience with the model. Ary de Jong from Demokwekerij Westland tells us more about the process.
What does Demokwekerij Westland of the World Horti Center do?
“The demo nursery started with innovation as its main purpose. We’ve collaborated with several partners on the development of new opportunities in horticulture. In the past, we’ve helped TNO to develop LED lighting. For Plantonomy we started helping Peter Kamp in the early stages of this model, years back.”
What’s your experience working with Plantonomy?
“This past year we’ve solely followed Plantonomy in growing our crops. We let the computer do everything, and didn’t change major settings for a year. The tool made a lot of decisions that I would not have made, but in the end, it’s all about the yield and production. The production has been consistent and good. There were some small declines but we can exactly see what caused them.”
After working with Plantonomy for a couple of weeks you learn to trust the model.
Normally a grower has to adjust the climate setting daily, according to the circumstances. Did Plantonomy take over completely?
“Working with this model, you only have to check up on it. That will always remain the job of the grower. At the end of each day, the grower checks the monitors for the steadiness of evaporation. If it has been steady, you can assume your growth will be as well. If that turns out not to be the case, the program will give you great insight into what caused this. After working with it for a couple of weeks, you learn to trust the model.”
What are the biggest advantages compared to the old way of working?
“I’m super enthusiastic about the watering part of the model. The model helps growers with water delivery and plant evaporation. It brings us back to focusing on evaporation. It’s not hard to trust the model because it gives you enough insight into what’s going on. You can be 100 percent confident that the computer is acting proactively. It always reacts faster than you would, yourself.
A big chunk of work is taken off your hands. Watering is better; the monitor ensures that the crop is properly active (this requires less tube heat and ensures energy saving); and the air exchange with outside is better.
The stability that this system provides will also deliver stable production.”
Plantonomy can help big growers to scale up even more because one grower will be able to handle far more acres.
Can you tell us how Plantonomy works?
“The model controls the climate based on plant evaporation. It’s a tool to keep the evaporation of the plant constant. It combines and reads all the collected data and makes a single balance line for the plant. Looking at this line on their monitor gives the grower an overview that reveals whether or not everything is still going well. If something went wrong inside the greenhouse, for example if due to a human error something has moved, you’ll get an alert.”
How does working with Plantonomy change your daily routine?
“Usually I would look at the climate and react, for example, by shutting the screens in the greenhouse. Now this has all been taken care of. Plantonomy knows what’s best and knows it before I do. The monitor always has real-time information about the plant.”
Would you recommend Plantonomy to other growers?
“Yes, because it has a lot of benefits. A small grower will benefit from the stability it gives. It can help big growers to scale up even more because one grower will be able to handle far more acres. A big plus considering that growers are more scarce nowadays.”
(source image: World Horti Center)