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Better harvest estimates by taking measurements in orchards

Since the Second World War, agriculture has been focused on producing food at the lowest possible costs. “We are the first generation to see the consequences of that,” said Steven Martina, CEO of The Greenery, during the EU Fresh Info Forum. That situation is untenable. “We have to pay fair prices for our food and drink.” After all, the world is rapidly changing, and because of an increasing world population, adjustments need to be made.

Steven Martina, The Greenery.

“Food safety is becoming increasingly important,” Martina continued. “IT plays an important part in that.” In addition to an increasing world population, which has already surpassed seven billion by now, extreme weather, such as drought and floods, threaten agriculture. Furthermore, cost of care is soaring. “Throughout Europe, we see too little consumption of fruit and vegetables structurally. Young people have minimal knowledge about the nutrients of products.” Thanks to social media, forums and other online services, that is now changing.

Camera in orchard
“Cultivators are working increasingly sustainably. Less fertilisers, pesticides and energy are being used by cultivators,” Martina said. “The use of organic pesticides is common.” Technologies are also being used: cultivators use drones for precision agriculture and harvesting robots are being developed so that fewer pickers are necessary. In 2014, top fruit cultivator Martijn Slabbekoorn, member of The Greenery, found a film online in which camera techniques were being tested in an orchard. 

Slabbekoorn joined the project with The Greenery. The camera makes images of the fruit, and registers its size. In a next step, the camera should also record colouring and count blossoms. “Because of that, you would have a better estimate of the harvest, resulting in quicker supply chain management.”

“We want to do more with data within The Greenery,” Martina continued. “That is why we joined Frug I Com in 2010.” Transparency towards consumers is becoming increasingly important. If a product is bad, you get an immediate response via social media. “We use our phones less for ringing and texting and more for apps. If you do not recognise these kinds of developments, you will lose consumers.” Finally, Martina talked about his vision: leaving a better planet for future generations. “That is possible if we make clever use of technologies.”
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