Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge 3rd Edition

Since years Wageningen University & Research is working on autonomous greenhouses, climate control, crop modelling, use of sensors, data, intelligence, computer vision and robotics. We develop new technology and new algorithms for and together with industry. You will find our solutions in many products in the sector already, maybe without recognizing it. We conduct research to understand crop physiology and product quality, we develop knowledge on climate control and plant phenotyping and are on the frontline of agrorobotics research to make new technologies useful.

In 2021/22 we will organise the 3rd International Challenge to sustainably grow vegetables in greenhouses by different international teams via fully automated control with the use of AI. This year’s crop will be lettuce. And this time, it must be fully autonomous!

first and second edition of the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge have been carried out at Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands, in 2018-2020, sponsored by Tencent and David Wallerstein (CXO Tencent). During these editions we have shown that artificial intelligence can potentially be superior to human intelligence, hence can potentially control indoor farming in the future. The goal of the third challenge will be fully automated control.


The set-up

The challenge will be set up in three main phases:

  1. Online Challenge – Recruitment of AI teams and scouting of talents (finished July 2021)
  2. Hackathon – Pre-selection of 5 teams for greenhouse growing experiment @WUR Bleiswijk (finished November 2021)
  3. Greenhouse growing experiment - Remotely @WUR Bleiswijk (starting 1 February 2022, follow the teams on our dashboard)

The jury

Spyros Fountas.jpg

Spyros Fountas | Editor in Chief Computer and Electronics in Agriculture, Experienced Associate Professor at Agricultural University of Athens, Greece, with a demonstrated history of working in research and application of precision agriculture.

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Gert Kootstra | Assistant professor at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. Expertise in machine vision, machine learning and robotics with various applications in agriculture and food production.

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Chieri Kubota | Professor at Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and Director of Ohio Controlled Environment Agriculture Centre at the Ohio State University, U.S. Expertise in Plant production under controlled environments, Value added crop production, Transplant production technologies, Vegetable grafting, Hydroponic/soilless production.

Dijun Luo.jpg

Dijun Luo | Principal researcher and the head of AI Agriculture Team at Tencent. Ph.D. in Computer Science from The University of Texas at Arlington. Expertise in Deep Learning, Computer Vision, and Reinforcement Learning.

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Kathy Steppe | Full professor at Ghent University, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Belgium, steering committee member of UGent Agrotopia. Expertise in plant ecophysiology, plant-water relations and carbon metabolism, plant sensors for monitoring and stress detection, plant microCT- and PET-scans, process-based and functional-structural plant modelling, and development of advanced plant-based control strategies.

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Mark & Roy Delissen | Innovative lettuce growers, owners of family business Deliscious, The Netherlands. Year-round production of three types of root ball lettuce in a unique cultivation system with LED chambers and greenhouses, from seeds to packaging. Highly automated system. Quality and sustainability are always top priority. Supply to many supermarkets in different countries since more than 50 years.

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Jan Willem van Beukel | Councilor municipality Lansingerland, important area for greenhouse horticulture in The Netherlands. Responsible for Greenhouse Horticulture and Greenport, program Councilor Sustainability, Nature, landscape and biodiversity.


The challenge is co-developed with Tencent and supported by Fluence, Gebr. Geers B.V., Sigrow,, Ridder, Hortiplan, Glastuinbouw Nederland, Kas als Energiebron and Gemeente Lansingerland.