Pinduoduo’s Smart Agriculture Competition acts as bridge connecting academia, technology sector and growers

ByThomas L. Elston

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Zhu Qingzhen was 24 when he still left his work at an auto layout company to go after a doctorate in agricultural engineering, at a time when agriculture was still comparatively untouched by the waves of technological transformation sweeping other industries.

“Everyone faces the query in their youth of what variety of individual they want to develop into,” said Zhu, now 32 and a member of Horti-AI, a crew taking part in Pinduoduo’s once-a-year Clever Agriculture Levels of competition. “For me, the response arrived from comprehension the point out of enhancement of agricultural engineering devices. I made a decision again then that I required to make my profession in agriculture.”

Now teaching and conducting research at Jiangsu University’s Agricultural Engineering College or university, Zhu was energized to find out about the Pinduoduo levels of competition, a greenhouse tomato-rising contest created to obstacle participating groups to adopt a multidisciplinary solution in developing price tag-successful and simple-to-use know-how that can enhance profit and productiveness though lessening the environmental footprint of agriculture.

Horti-AI is just one of 4 teams that had just accomplished the six-thirty day period challenge, which observed agricultural scientists, info scientists and growers work alongside one another to cultivate tomatoes in intelligent greenhouses in Yunnan. The perform was completed primarily remotely, managing and modifying variables like temperature, humidity and nutrient blend by means of a good greenhouse administration process. Normal Friday night time video conferences were held to assess notes and explore method.

“Smart farming will be section of the transformative answer as our agricultural technological innovation is fast evolving in direction of a new paradigm – Agriculture 4., which integrates a series of improvements to develop agricultural products with better efficiency,” mentioned Carlos Watson, FAO consultant to China. “I am extremely pleased to see that the complex team has used agriculture 4.-linked systems these types of as details assessment, clever management and command cloud system, in tomato planting, which not only enhances yield, but also enhances diet, as properly as the dwelling specifications and abilities of deprived farmers.”

The annual function is arranged by Pinduoduo with cooperation from China Agricultural College and Zhejiang University, and technological guidance from the UN’s Food stuff and Agriculture Corporation and Netherlands-based Wageningen College & Investigate.

The level of competition is gaining a track record as a platform where young skills in the discipline of agricultural scientific investigation can properly realize the demands of smallholder famers and develop focused products and solutions, in accordance to He Yong, Dean of the School of Biosystems Engineering and Foodstuff Science at Zhejiang University.

The opposition has acted as a “bridge connecting agricultural experts, electronic technology experts and farmers” and “promoted mutual knowledge amongst builders and consumers of technological innovation, and successfully elevated the adoption of new systems,” He said.

Systems designed for the duration of the initially Wise Agriculture Levels of competition is at present in use in numerous important strawberry-escalating regions in China to manage rising circumstances in greenhouses. Numerous of the taking part teams in this year’s competition have designs to launch pilot projects to take a look at their technological innovation on a larger scale.

For Horti-AI, just one key dilemma to triumph over was how to use technology to replicate the a long time of experience that veteran growers have accumulated but are not able to transfer to many others at scale. Employing computer eyesight technology and machine finding out, the workforce was equipped to map the awareness foundation and create an automated method for recognizing how properly the tomatoes are growing. An added profit of this engineering is that the design will become more accurate above time as it “learns” from more info.

This is borne out in the final results. In contrast with standard soil cultivation of cherry tomatoes, the clever greenhouse management design significantly boosted profitability and generate , according to an investigation by the staff.

“Through this level of competition, we can plainly see that the small-price application of agricultural technologies such as sensors, algorithms, and supplementary mild can significantly strengthen the degree of agricultural generation and administration, efficiently make improvements to the yield and quality of agricultural products, and at the identical time market environmental security and sustainability,” claimed Andre Zhu, Senior Vice President at Pinduoduo. “We firmly consider that the iteration and marketing of these systems can deliver imaginative additional price to agricultural merchandise, therefore creating far more earnings for significant-scale agricultural growers.”


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