The sensors that currently provide growers with a lot of data will be for sale ‘on every street corner’ in five years, expects John van Helden from Yookr. That is why he is happy that he has a smart open-source software platform on the market right now. “This way, we can constantly link data from any source to our dashboard so that we can interpret, analyze and optimize cultivation together with the grower.”
The Dutch company, which was officially registered in 2016, has only really taken off since 2019 and is still relatively unknown. However, many growers are already getting valuable data from their cultivation with sensors, which are then visualized in a Yookr dashboard. Yookr is based in North Limburg on the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo (The old Floriade site opposite of auction Royal ZON).
Yookr offers growers the opportunity to present data from different sensors and other sources in a comprehensible dashboard. An example John gives is cucumber grower Boy Jacobs, who by weighing the plant gets great insights about the growth development of the plant and can therefore better predict the harvest. Sensors have been used in greenhouses since the 1980s, but the current generation of sensors is wireless and can be used anywhere. Boy mainly sees a future in the valorization of the data.
The Yookr platform helps with this. “The first step was an individual plant reading, but we are now reading twenty at a time on a beam and the first results are very positive,” says John.
He stresses the importance of working together in order to discover what the grower finds important. “During the day, we can accurately see how the weight of the cucumber plant develops. Moments for leaf picking and cutting are also visualized in the dashboard. This data can of course be compared with earlier data to make predictions regarding the harvest. The readings also show when a plant depletes and how the weight of the plant increases during the day. Informative, because the readings sometimes show something different from what the grower had assumed.”
The grower can set target values in his dashboard. If these are reached, for example a minimum temperature or low humidity, the grower will automatically receive a text message or email. He can then take immediate action. “Simple, but effective, because once the target value is reached, it is time for action, even at night.”
Quality of the sensors
As mentioned, Yookr offers both hardware and software. This allows growers to measure more, collect data and make these comprehensive. For tomato, cucumber, and bell pepper cultivation, among others, the focus is currently on measuring and weighing the plants. Climate factors are also measured (e.g. growing light, carbon dioxide, temperature, and humidity.
In outdoor cultivations, the focus is on the soil, where soil moisture and temperature, pH, oxygen, and acidity including available trace elements can be measured. “And in this, we keep expanding. We make our own sensors, with international hardware, to ensure that we can guarantee the quality of the sensors.”
Yookr’s goal is to bring together the growing flow of data among growers. That is why the Yookr platform is an open-source platform. “This has been a conscious decision from the start. Now you see more companies doing the same. This is the only way to keep up in this rapidly changing world.”
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