Due to the growing world population, food demand will double by the year 2050. Solving this challenge will require smart energy and water saving solutions to enable more efficient food production. Most traditional greenhouse growers, however, only have access to limited and imprecise ways to gain insight into their crops and the surface on which a crop lives and grows (the substrate).
Startup company, Growficient, supports growers in monitoring and optimizing their irrigation strategy, resulting in better production and less waste. Its platform is based on a unique sensor technology that accurately measures soil and climate data, such as temperature, humidity and nutrition, at multiple measuring points in watering sections. This is called precision farming.
Growficient asked INFO to define, design and deliver a flexible and user-friendly platform that translates the comprehensive sensor data from the greenhouse into valuable insights and advice for the farmers.
A deep understanding of growers
Growficient’s ambition was to enter the market of precision farming with a specific focus on data-driven irrigation management. Starting with the most advanced market in the world, the Netherlands, Growficient wanted to introduce monitoring software and smart sensors to help Dutch greenhouse growers cement their position as the most advanced in the world.
The challenge was to take the extensive plant knowledge and traditions of Dutch growers and to translate these into a digital platform. The platform requires a safe and reliable connectivity between the sensors and the cloud-based Digital Twin software platform. Growers can then make use of the real-time sensor data to get relevant insights. This supports them in monitoring and optimizing their irrigation strategy.
To properly test the platform concept with growers, INFO mapped the various processes that constitute greenhouse growing today. That meant not just mapping the existing tools they had available, but also the various manual greenhouse processes to understand what type of insights and monitoring capabilities were essential for them to act upon before shaping a product around their needs. With a deep understanding of the everyday working rhythm of growers, it was possible to identify which areas could best be supported or improved, and how.
We identified and incorporated personas on every level of the horticulture industry, from crop consultants to junior growers. We created a series of usability sessions with high-fidelity prototypes to ensure we live up to industry standards. This resulted in an efficient and highly user-friendly interface.
Digital Twin Sensor Platform to help growers make informed decisions
Growficient integrated its plug-and-play sensor technology with INFO’s Digital Twin platform. The platform was built using cloud technology and provides a flexible taxonomy representing the Digital Twins. The network connectivity with the sensors is very efficient and reliable.
A mobile-friendly dashboard, or “Growboard”, provides real-time insights and offers visualizations and alerts for the grower to act upon. The Digital Twin platform allows the grower to better operate their farm – resulting in increased plant health and yield, data-driven irrigation strategies and reduced costs by saving on water, nutrients and labor.
Better data, better predictions
The platform offers powerful insights and visualizations based on real-time data. By combining these incoming data streams with historical data and other data sources (such as weather forecasts) they can be analyzed in a richer context and provide more effective insights. Currently, machine learning algorithms are being developed that will enable to optimize the irrigation strategy, detect errors early and allow autonomous watering.
Growficient aan het woord
INFO is a committed digital partner supporting us in creating our digital twin platform. Besides gaining insights into what’s important for growers and how our service can add value to their daily work, they created a platform that is unique in the market but highly appreciated by our users.
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Jann de Waal