Project

Call for partners: 'Towards Autonomous Horticulture'

As a follow-up to the precision horticulture project, the PPP (Public Private Partnerships) Towards Autonomous Horticulture is being prepared. The project aims to prepare horticultural sectors towards a more autonomous way of food production. Where sensors, automated decisions and automated actuations lead to more sustainable way of production.

Horticulture (including: greenhouse horticulture, arboriculture, perennials and flowers, fruit cultivation, open field vegetable cultivation, flower bulbs and bulb flowers and mushroom cultivation) is characterized by a high labor effort and a high value per square meter cultivated area. It is important to monitor the situation at plant level to get the optimum performance out of it. The pressure on labor is also increasing in the primary process of food production.

COVID-19 demonstrated the vulnerability of the availability of labor in the food production chain. Labor also has to be moved further and further away (e.g. increase of Bulgarian and Romanian and shrinkage of Polish employees) or food is increasingly produced outside the National borders (e.g. increased import form Ukraine, Russia, Morocco). Such processes are strongly related to the demographic presence of (cheap) labor.

Robotized autonomous food production makes it possible to produce closer to the consumer, independent of the demographic presence of labor. It makes food production safe, reproducible, better to track and trace and ensures a continuous process of optimization of a consumer driven production method.

Our goal is to realize a coherent package of applications that can be used to achieve this goal.

Approach

We are looking for partners who want to contribute to realize autonomous applications with us. Partners can contribute with Cash and In Kind (In Kind = Own effort). Partners are of course allowed to apply the results of the project themselves and can manage the Wageningen project engineers. 50-25-25 ratio is assumed. Where 50% subsidy is brought in by the government, at least 25% cash and a 25% In Kind contribution by the partners. Initiatives are sought within the following scope:

  • Projects in which new location-specific sensor systems (from drone, sensor networks and mobile vehicles) take over the role of human influence and interpretation, including decision support.
  • Projects in which man and machine work together adaptively and interactively. People and machines are preferably supported in an people-friendly manner from an expert system.
  • Projects in which wearable electronics and innovative clothing contribute to improved working conditions in relation to climate, social interaction, quality monitoring (over quantity monitoring) or working easier and less pressures.
  • Improved system integrations where user interface is greatly simplified and other IOT tools made available for employees and management
  • Autonomous action (robotization / actuation) can be part of the PPP
  • Ethical aspects of data validation and robotization / mechanization
  • The PPP would like to encourage Retail organizations to contribute to projects, as they can significantly help set the agenda for sustainable food production.

Invite for collaboration

The consortium is open to participation by companies that are active in agri-food or want to enter the agri-food market. This includes branch organizations, end users such as growers (collectives), horticultural suppliers, IT companies and high-tech. For the more improved human machine interface, the social partners are also invited to participate.

In return for the Cash and In Kind participation in the project, the partners specify the topics that will be performed. The knowledge, algorithms and IP can be applied directly within your own company (user right). The project determines to work on direct applications that can become as generic as possible (prototype stage).