Generic article

The greenhouse growing experiment

In a practical greenhouse growing experiment, the 5 best scoring teams will grow a lettuce crop in two crop cycles of 6-8 weeks in 5 greenhouse compartments at WUR Bleiswijk fully autonomously.

Wageningen University & Research (WUR Bleiswijk) has a unique high-tech greenhouse facility with identical small (96 m2) compartments. All compartments have different actuators to control the inside growing conditions. Main actuators are: ventilation windows, 2 heating systems, 2 shading systems, artificial lighting, fogging for humidification, water input, nutrient mixture, CO2 input. All compartments are equipped with standard sensors to control the actuators through a standard greenhouse climate computer. Main sensors are: temperature, humidity, CO2, PAR light, pH and EC of fertigation water and simple RGB camera’s. All data measured and all control actions taken are available through a data interface.

Each team will have access to one compartment with its standard sensors installed (see above). Each team will be allowed to install additional sensors high resolution RGB, hyperspectral or thermal camera’s to monitor crop growth or any other sensors which they consider useful, before the experiment starts. No human measurements of crop parameters will be provided by the organizers, apart from measuring final harvest. The teams will have access to all relevant data via a data interface from their own compartment. The teams will have to develop fully autonomous algorithms and submit them to the organizers before the start of the second crop cycle experiment. These algorithms should be able to make choices with respect to the control settings, to remotely control crop growth.

Each team will be able to extract necessary data from the greenhouse compartment and couple it to their own fully autonomous algorithms in order to decide on the control settings for the next period. The control settings will have to be sent back automatically to the system (the greenhouse climate computer) in order to control the actuators automatically. Only the second crop cycle will count. The winner will be the team with the highest net profit at the end.