You need good crop forecasts to respond correctly to the supply and demand market. An incorrect estimate could lead to growers having a surplus of a product with a short shelf life. That, of course, benefits no one. A Dutch company, VanBoven, uses drones to scan fields. It can thus predict the broccoli harvest with up to a fortnight's accuracy.
This year, the business mainly focused on the commercial launch of harvest forecasting in the Netherlands. But it's now begun testing in Spain and the United States too. VanBoven is currently collecting data in cooperation with growers. They want to see if the models used for harvest prognosis in the Netherlands can also be implemented abroad. Or whether adjustments are needed, either to the models or the way they work.
How does it work?
VanBoven combines field readings with a predictive model. They can map products' current harvest maturity in the field. That's based on, for example, drone measurements in the field. They then link the data to environmental data like weather forecasts. This combination means a harvest prognosis, accurate to within two weeks, is constructed.
"That's the exact time needed to respond to the supply and demand market. That's done in collaboration with chain partners", says Kaz Vermeer, VanBoven's co-founder. "Growers can, therefore, find good buyers for all their products. And, thus, prevent food waste."
Why Spain and the US?
"In the Netherlands, broccoli is harvested from June to October. In Spain, it's the other way round. And in the United States, broccoli is grown throughout the year. So we need to expand to other countries to provide our service all year round." Also, cultivation companies in those countries are often larger.
An acreage of around 1,000 hectares isn't uncommon. "With companies of that size, growers are often somewhat distanced from the farming," explains Kaz. "It's harder to manage that business too. So the VanBoven service is extremely suitable for such companies. It lets farmers access objective data with which to estimate the harvest."
"In the future, we want to look at other crops like cauliflower too. But, for now, broccoli is our main focus." Kaz says VanBoven encounters many Dutch nationals in its adventures abroad. They're active in the agricultural sector. "It's, therefore, easy to connect. That comradery works in favor of our company's internationalization," he concludes.