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Blockchain in floriculture: Webinar on data sharing in horticulture

Published on
April 9, 2021

On 13 April data experts will discuss the possibilities and desirability of data sharing in the online meeting ‘Data delen in de tuinbouw’ (Data sharing in horticulture) by Floricode and Tuinbouw Digitaal. Blockchain expert Lan van Wassenaer of Wageningen University & Research will talk about the transparency that blockchain can offer horticulture. Van Wassenaer: ‘Our vision is that in a blockchain network participants with the correct authorisation can share all relevant information on a batch of pot plants with one press of the button and view this information across the whole chain.’

Companies in the horticulture sector have been sharing, discussing and analysing data for years. In study clubs and crop cooperatives they share data on, for example, cultivation strategy, greenhouse climate, food, labour, crop protection, etc. And increasing digitisation in horticulture means that companies are collecting and sharing more and more data. Examples here include not only offers, orders and deliveries but also data on sustainability and certification.

Blockchain for horticulture

In horticulture there are various platforms active that enable companies to share data with one another. Possibilities are also being created to analyse these data using modern ICT tools to obtain new insights. Blockchain technology (BCT) is one such tool. In BCT all participants in a chain or horticulture chain are linked in a network in which they can reliably share and retrieve information. In this way it is possible to generate SMART insights or business intelligence by means of big data analyses, for example. Van Wassenaer: “With blockchain you can improve transparency and sustainability in a controlled manner.”

Within the PPS project “Blockchain for Automated Compliance” Addenda, Royal FloraHolland, Floricode, Mprise and Wageningen University & Research are studying how BCT can make floriculture transparent. Using this technology breeders, growers, traders, and other parties in floriculture will ultimately be able to view all the information on a batch of plants. A grower supplies, for example, information about the crop protection agents used and a certification authority the audit result, so that a trader or consumer knows which steps their batch has gone through. The research has resulted in two prototype blockchain applications: Flori-Chain and AGF-Chain.

Next steps for Flori-Chain

In the factsheet “Flori-Chain: Transparantie in duurzame sierteelt” (Flori-Chain: Transparency in sustainable floriculture) project leader Van Wassenaer describes Flori-Chain’s vision and the status of the prototype. “The aim of the factsheet is to explain what Flori-Chain is, why we are developing it, and what the next steps are”, explains Van Wassenaer. “We’re currently still in the development phase, so if you want to know more or would like to work with us, you’re most welcome!” Parties participating in the chain can already record the use of agents and retrieve this information. An example here is crop protection agents.

Van Wassenaer will present Flori-Chain and AGF-Chain on 13 April during the webinar “Data delen in de tuinbouw”. AGF-Chain is an application of blockchain similar to Flori-Chain but designed for the potato-vegetable-fruit sector. “Using these two examples we show how blockchain can help with data sharing”, says Van Wassenaer.

Agreements on data sharing

In addition, during the webinar Van Wassenaer and other data experts will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of data sharing in the sector. Despite rapid digitisation in horticulture, there are often still no clear agreements made on data ownership, data processing and what you can do with the results. Are companies allowed to earn money from data?

There is a risk that at some point in the future there will be so many initiatives and systems that companies will no longer have an overview of who receives which data from them and what happens to these data. An example here is data from climate and food computers, recording data on crop protection and fertilisation, certificates, and offers and orders. According to Floricode and Tuinbouw Digitaal it must be made easier for companies to gain an insight into the way they store their data. They must have control of their data themselves. Van Wassenaer believes that everyone can help in the development of blockchain for horticulture: “join the movement!”

Read the factsheet “Flori-chain: Transparantie in duurzame sierteelt” [pdf] [Dutch only]