Students learn to grow tomatoes while gaming

Published on
December 15, 2020

Wouldn't it be nice if horticulture students could learn how to grow tomatoes from behind the computer? That is why the Business Unit Greenhouse Horticulture and Flower Bulbs of Wageningen University & Research is developing a 'serious game'. The challenge for the participating students is to produce as many tomatoes as possible and as energy-efficiently as possible.

The idea is simple: a teacher creates a new game online with a few basic principles (for example, the plant density or the presence of an energy screen or lighting). Subsequently, students can get started with the cultivation of the digital tomatoes. The game shows graphical elements (such as a cross-section of the greenhouse), input fields and graphs of the development of production and energy use

Students can change the energy settings for each simulated week. For example, they can change the settings for the screening, heat and ventilate. At the end, the game shows how many tomatoes have been produced and how much energy has been used. The aim of the game (working title: KASSIM PRO) is that the students use as little energy as possible per kilogram of tomatoes.

The game is based on KASSIM, the online greenhouse model developed by WUR, which in turn is built on the simulation model KASPRO. The game has also been expanded with a crop growth model for tomato. There is a possibility that the serious game will be developed for other crops at a later stage.

WUR is developing the game as part of the project Het Nieuwe Telen: Gas Erop! The aim of this project is to disseminate knowledge through the education of energy-efficient cultivation (HNT). The project is co-financed by the SIA Steering Body, part of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).​