As an ex- grower, I have learnt to read my crop’s “emotions”. All of this is done by “feel” which has come from spending a lot of time with the crops, observing patterns and using case-based reasoning. Do the growing conditions feel too hot or humid, or do the plants look like they are struggling? The more patterns and internal references I collect, and feedback from my decisions, the more experience I gain.
Many growers do the same, and to varying success are able to make decisions that will help maintain the best environment for the crop. This all come from years of experience, something that is slowing diminishing from our pool of growers. Studies show that the average grower age is around 55yrs (figures from the Global CEA Census).
It’s only a matter of time that we will lose valuable experience unless we can “translate” their experience using technology. A few companies have accepted this challenge and are creating “virtual agronomists”, that are data driven. Data in combination with its correct interpretation displayed in a digital form can be the “Lua” for younger or inexperienced growers.
Increasingly, growers are being aware of this and are monitoring their environment using sensors to collect data which will help them make their decisions. Be it the temperature, humidity, CO2 level or even light levels, no more is it by “feel”, but they are now backed by solid data that will show trends or anomalies which will help inform their decision making.
Naturally, the next step would be to introduce suggestions for decisions or actions that need to be taken. Our experienced growers can pass on their experience by translating their knowledge into a digital form for the next generation.
This is how progress is made. Our forefathers laid the building blocks that we are now building on to go even higher!
*Image sourced from mu-design.lu/lua