The Bollenrevolutie 4.0 project focuses on combining precision agriculture with technological developments in the field of vision, robotics, artificial intelligence and big data. Within this research project, Machinefabriek Steketee contributes with knowledge and camera technology to the sustainability of bulb cultivation.
Rik Aelfers, software engineer at Steketee says: "From Steketee we are working on a machine that can recognize diseases in the bulb field. The machine currently consists of a recording unit containing 15 colour cameras mounted at different angles. This allows us to take pictures of the bulb plants from all kinds of perspectives. A lot of data is needed for a good recognition of the disease symptoms in the various bulbous plants. We are therefore working on data collection, research and testing at various locations, including at bulb grower family Zeestraten in Hillegom".
Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR) and the Foundation Bloembollenkeuringsdienst, an advisory and monitoring organisation, are also partners in the project. "We are working on an algorithm for recognising sick tulip plants", says Thierry Stokkermans, researcher at WUR. "In the field, we make recordings of the sick plants, these images are edited and then used for the algorithm training. This method, which is called 'deep-learning', ultimately takes us to a software system that enables machine disease recognition". The inspectors of the Foundation Bloembollenkeuringsdienst 'look for the bulbs with the naked eye'. This information is then compared with the data and images recognised by the machine. Currently the disease recognition and software development focuses on the TVX virus and the tulip mosaic virus.
"Our current focus is on robust camera recognition," continues Rik Aelfers of Steketee. "As soon as the machine recognizes the diseases properly, we will develop a machine that can be used by the grower. We would like to develop a machine that not only recognises diseased plants, but also performs another operation. Think, for example, of removing the diseased plants or applying crop protection agents locally. We can then apply this knowledge and developments to other crops as well. I find it super cool to work with my colleagues on this new machine. From Steketee we contribute to a healthy, sustainable agriculture and crop care!
More information about the project BollenRevolution 4.0 (Dutch) can be found here.