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Autonomous greenhouse management introduced in Ontario

The Ontario government is supporting greenhouse growers by investing over $3.6 million in 12 innovative projects to help develop new technologies, recover from the impact of COVID-19 and enhance competitiveness and innovation. One of these approved projects is Autonomous Greenhouse Management, a collaboration between the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers and Blue Radix, an independent Dutch AI-tech specialist for the international greenhouse industry.

This project is supported through the Greenhouse Competitiveness & Innovation Initiative, a cost-share program funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs and delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council.

Autonomous growing with Crop Controller
“Together with OGVG we introduce autonomous growing with Crop Controller to Ontario vegetable growers,” said Ronald Hoek, CEO of Blue Radix. “Crop Controller is a service: data models and algorithms control the greenhouse installations 24/7, supported by off-site Autonomous Greenhouse Managers with in-depth knowledge about crops, energy and data. With autonomous steering of the greenhouse installations, the crop strategy is put into practice with artificial intelligence. Crop Controller is not developed to replace growers. The grower is still needed to define the crop strategy. Ultimately, they can manage more hectares and worry less about repetitive actions and routine thinking. The algorithms do the work for them in their daily operations.

The project looks to meet four main objectives:

  • To research the specific needs of Canadian growers (compared to Dutch growers) related to autonomous greenhouse management and translate these needs into product features.
  • To research and implement the adjustments that must be made to improve the match of Crop Controller with different Canadian climate conditions.
  • To demonstrate the working of the Blue Radix data models and algorithms. This helps growers to better understand the value and adopt this new technology in their company.
  • To share knowledge with market peers and help growers to work with this new technology in their day-to-day operations.

“We are very thankful to the Ontario government for the GCII funding of this project," said Hoek. "It will help greenhouse businesses improve their productivity with adopting autonomous growing. Greenhouse owners are less dependent on crop experts, will have a higher operational profit while limiting their operational risks and usage of resources.”

OGVG will select three vegetable greenhouse production locations across Ontario to participate in the project. During the project OGVG and Blue Radix will share information regularly about progress and results through articles, learn ‘n’ lunch sessions, presentations and online demos.

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