There are already models that predict the production of, for example, a tomato crop. But not only quantity is important for growers and consumers, but also quality. The Greenhouse Horticulture and Flower Bulbs Business Unit of Wageningen University & Research is therefore developing a prediction model that calculates the effect of cultivation measures on, among other things, the Brix content.
The taste of a tomato is determined by two things: the variety (ie the genetics) and the growing conditions. The cultivation conditions include CO2, temperature, PAR light (which is used by the crop for photosynthesis) and the EC content in the substrate slab. WUR is investigating whether a model can be developed that predicts taste.
WUR will first focus on the Brix content of a tomato (a measure of the content of total soluble solids, such as sugars). The aim is that the model can predict in which direction the Brix content will develop under certain cultivation measures. That information then serves as decision support for a grower. It can therefore decide whether or not to take certain measures, based on its own strategic choices about quantity, quality or costs, for example.
A first version of the model was developed last year by researchers in crop physiology, product quality, and cultivation: validation is done through measurements in the research greenhouses of WUR. They focus first on the Brix content in a standard tomato variety. In a later stage, the model may be further developed for other cultivars, other variables, and other outputs. WUR is still looking for partners for the further development.
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