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10 June 2020

Which AI algorithm will have the greenest thumbs?

On June 15 the kick-off of the Smart Agriculture Competition took place in Yunnan, China. Contestants of this high-tech showdown will have 3.5 months to remotely grow strawberries in a sophisticated greenhouse using artificial intelligence and machine learning-driven algorithms. 

The winner of the Smart Agriculture Competition will be determined by how much economic benefit they can bring with their technology, as well as the reliability, scalability and technical merit of the growing techniques. The contest is organized by Pinduoduo, one of China’s largest social e-commerce platforms. Together with the China Agricultural University, Pinduoduo initiated a competition to help improve and develop the country’s agriculture industry. Also Wageningen University & Research, the University of Florida and the FAO are involved in the contest that drew interest from almost 40 teams worldwide. Ridder Group will facilitate the teams with advanced horticulture technology and systems inside the contest greenhouses and will also be judging the results of the teams.

One of the competition greenhouses located in the highlands of China’s Yunnan province. The teams will use the Ridder Synopta control software to remotely monitor the plant conditions, gather all crop and climate data and eventually use A.I. algorithms to adjust the cultivation strategy effectively.  

AI Algorithms
During the competition, the participants will create a set of digital AI solutions to remotely control and steer the growing process inside the greenhouse in Yunnan. Ridder provided high-end climate computers, Ridder Synopta control software, sensor systems and sophisticated fertigation and water management technologies to automate the cultivation of the crop. A complete API interface provides the teams with full remote access to the systems so strong AI algorithms can be deployed. The overall goal is to achieve high quality and efficient greenhouse production without human intervention.

Ridder’s technical trainer Ke Cai and Ridder China GM Fulco Wijdooge during the first preliminary round of the Smart Agriculture Competition on June 15.

Focus on feasibility

Over the next 3 to 4 months teams with some of the world’s top agriculture researchers will do their utmost to realize the highest production figures, best quality products in the most efficient and economic way. Ridder China’s GM Fulco Wijdooge will be part of the jury who will judge the teams on the composition, proposition, feasibility, rentability of the methods used and overall results.

The Ridder water treatment equipment in this building is helping the contestants with accurately monitoring and adjusting the using of fertilizers and water.   

Knowledge transfer
Besides providing the appropriate technology and systems, the transfer of knowledge and expertise will also play a major role in the competition. Professional service engineers and horticulture trainers from Ridder group will also provide full technical support and training during the competition. Follow Ridder on social media (LinkedIn, WeChat, FacebookTwitter & Instagram) to stay updated about the Smart Agri Competition.

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