Monitoring, predicting and controlling the health of fruit trees and the quality of their harvest is a highly labor-intensive task. Replacing this with an online system is the challenging goal of Digital Orchard. Success will provide equipment builders, technology providers and the fruit sector with insights and tools to reduce costs and improve sustainable production.
What if equipment builders and technology providers could develop and test their new machinery and tools based on digital representations of the entire orchard, before actually bringing them to the field. This would enable them to innovate faster and more efficient, without the need to access orchards in early stages of development. In this way they could provide farmers, fruit processors and other end users quickly with the badly needed tools to reduce costs and improve sustainable production. Think, for example, of robots that allow farmers to ‘outsource’ labor-intensive tasks, and apps that enable farmers to take well-considered decisions on harvest, markets and transport.
Monitoring and prediction
In Digital Orchard, OnePlanet Research Center is implementing both existing and novel sensing technologies – developed in the Emerging Sensing program – for the monitoring of fruit trees and their produce. In parallel, the organization is driving a roadmap towards the development of digital twins, a journey that will open the door to a wide range of exciting applications, such as advanced quality prediction. Data are gathered and integrated that can predict the health of fruit trees, and the quality of their fruit.
In this program, OnePlanet combines specialist knowledge about high-tech sensors with a broad experience and understanding of data-science, agriculture and fresh food-supply, to answer the complex issues expected with such a groundbreaking innovation. How, for example, do you select the most suitable sensor technologies from those currently available, and define sensors that will be needed, but are yet to be developed? And how to measure precisely what experienced field staff can see and feel, such as just the right branch to prune or right moment to harvest the fruit?
Towards an online platform
OnePlanet is currently building an ecosystem of technology providers and equipment builders (application partners), as well as farmers and fruit processors (implementation partners) to drive the roadmap together. The first field studies will start in 2021. By 2026, the data collected will be integrated into an online platform.