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How a flower grower uses data to improve the cultivation process

November 06, 2020

Using sensors to measure the temperature of the leaf or check if you marked the dew point right. Growers can use 30MHz technology to improve their cultivation process at a high precision level. Nico Plasmeijer, Cultivation Specialist at BB Plant in Bleiswijk, uses the data platform on a daily basis and explains how he utilises data to improve his cultivation process.

At nursery BB Plant, they are growing Calla’s all year long. The plant is also known under it’s name Zantedeschia. “Together with the owner Bram Breugem, I’m responsible for the cultivation”, tells Plasmeijer. “This is a small company, so you need to know a a little bit about everything. That makes the job more challenging and exciting. What appeals to me as a grower is that our product is finished in three months. I see this high turnover rate as an advantage. If you have a good product, then the greenhouse looks good for three months. If the quality is somehow a bit off, it will only last a few months. Fortunately, it generally goes well.”

Plasmeijer has a lot of experience in floriculture. He feels it’s becoming increasingly important and also easier to use data in his daily work. “We use an older climate computer. Within the company we have four departments and in each location we have a measuring box. This is where we collect data from, such as the temperature and the moisture deficiency. We use these insights to control the greenhouse. But it doesn’t tell us everything. We wanted to get a better understanding of our crop’s health and environment, and decided to start collecting and analysing more data with the use of 30MHz technology.”

After using the data platform for a year, he has really noticed the added value it brings in finetuning the cultivation process. “Whether the plant is doing well or not, we can turn our precise and real-time data into actionable insights. We cannot do that with our climate computer. With the platform, I can make beautiful graphs and charts. It takes a bit of practice, but it does pay off. The layout is nice and clear. I don’t have to visit the greenhouse as frequently anymore, I can easily check how things are going from the comfort of my home.”

‘We thought we tackeled the dew point’

Plasmeijer says the dew point is a good example in which the platform of 30MHz helped him. The dew point is a huge factor in BB Plants greenhouse, because it is important in the prevention of mold. “After we water the plant, we use a strategy for aeration and heating. You have to dry the garden a certain way to prevent the plants from getting too wet. In 30MHz’s platform, we can see the exact dew point. We always thought we had ‘tackled’ the issue of the dew point, but the data showed us that we were staying too close to that dew point for too long.”

The measuring of the leaf temperature is another big advantage according to Plasmeijer. “First we just saw the temperature of the greenhouse, but now we can see exactly what the temperatures of the plants are. That’s what I mean with finetuning. First you collect data and then you act accordingly.”

Plasmeijer likes to experiment with sensors to obtain more data on a precision level. Another example: “After we water the Calla’s, we cover the plants with plastic. We never knew exactly what was happening underneath the plastic. Now we have placed a sensor under the plastic that tells us how we can best heat up the greenhouse to create the perfect conditions under the plastic. We are very happy with this data. But only collecting data is not the answer. You have to know how to translate it into actionable insights and learn how to work with it. That’s what we are doing now.”

Plasmeijer shows the colorful calla’s in his greenhouse.

How can we help you digitise your cultivation process?
Analyse all kinds of information from different data sources such as climate computers, sensors and manual input in a central platform. Improve the production process of your crops, plants, seeds or bulbs together with advisors, distributors and researchers. We are happy to talk to you about which service model is most suitable for your company.
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