“Working in the cloud is just like it was when the internet first started,” says Patrick Dankers, Portfolio Manager Horticulture at Priva. “At the end of the last century it was unusual to have internet, but just a few years later it was unusual not to have it. That’s how quickly things can change.”
Patrick is seeing many growers looking at how to start working in the cloud. Now is a good time to get into it, he says: it offers benefits straight away, but because of the opportunities it offers, it’s also easier to develop and grow with it. The only initial investment that may be needed is a Priva Gateway to connect the Priva climate computer to the cloud.
Priva Connected is the first step to our online applications and services. It opens up the opportunity to see and control the climate data in the greenhouse in a super easy way, Patrick explains – wherever you are, whether you’re close by or far away. “Say you’re walking down the central path of your greenhouse and you want to know whether a compartment you can see has been irrigated or not. You can check that there and then on the app on your smartphone and adjust it if necessary.”
“A whole world of opportunities” opens up with this first step, Patrick reveals. One of these opportunities comes in the form of Priva Aranet wireless sensors. These sensors display highly accurate climate data per compartment or another unit of surface area. “Because wireless sensors are so versatile in terms of options and installation, they offer much more data and therefore a clearer picture of the climate data in the greenhouse,” Patrick explains.
Not only do the sensors supply more data, but in Priva Connected this data is immediately integrated with the data from the climate computer. Patrick: “Without this integration you will spend more time organizing the information than analyzing it. Because it is integrated, you can use the data efficiently straight away. It was technically very difficult to integrate this kind of data before.”
With the wide range of Priva Aranet wireless sensors, you can also measure new climate variables such as light (PAR) and soil moisture. “That’s much easier to do than with wired sensors,” Patrick says.
Adjusting on the dashboard
The Grower Intelligence Dashboard is another opportunity. Growers can register their cultivation goals based on crop-specific indicators and gear their climate and irrigation strategy towards them. Then they can check at any time whether the crop is developing in line with those goals. “At the moment, cultivation goals are often tucked away in an Excel spreadsheet or may even be in the grower’s head,” Patrick says. “With the Grower Intelligence Dashboard every grower can register those goals for each crop and work with them in a structured way.”
Every grower knows what they want to achieve with the crop, he says, but if their goals aren’t registered properly somewhere and checked regularly, that process is vulnerable and subjective. “That’s why it’s good to register those goals in a digital system and then keep an eye on them and make adjustments if necessary. In other words: plan-do-check-act. This helps growers maintain an overview of the cultivation process and easily make adjustments.”
When growers enter their cultivation goals, they can also enter the plant parameters and the crop results associated with those goals, such as height, truss formation and production, in the same Grower Intelligence Dashboard. Patrick: “For instance, if a grower is planning to produce early, they can enter the plant parameters and compare them with previous cultivation goals registered in the plan. This makes it easy to track whether the crop is progressing to plan, and the system will send a notification if there are deviations.
Growers can easily give their crop advisors access to the Grower Intelligence Dashboard so that they also have all this crop data at their fingertips. Each advisor can be given read or write access for each service.
Growers can go one step further and control the entire crop with Plantonomy. This technology automatically adjusts the settings to ensure the goals are achieved. “We realize that this is something of a pipe dream for many growers,” Patrick says. “A number of greenhouses are working with Plantonomy worldwide. We see it as a logical next step towards data-driven, systematic cultivation and development.”
Patrick emphasizes that the grower is always in control. “You can only grow automatically if you know what your cultivation goals are. I compare it with a self-driving car. It will only go to the destination you enter yourself.”
In addition, growers don’t need to worry about attackers such as hackers being able to influence the crop. “The Priva cloud is extremely secure,” Patrick emphasizes. “We regularly ask external parties and hackers to test our system.”