Digital data analysis makes fragmented data a thing of the past

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How do you summarize a comprehensive innovation in just 400 characters (!) when competing for a GreenTech innovation award? The specialists at Royal Brinkman recently faced this challenge, ahead of the introduction of the digital data analysis platform Auxin this week. We discussed this innovation in more detail with Luuk Jumelet, Digital Manager at the major horticultural supplier.

Four years ago, Luuk joined Royal Brinkman in ‘s-Gravenzande, the Netherlands. At this time, the shift from analog to digital was in full swing. “Many growers decided to shift from registering data on diseases and pest on a notepad to registering scout data in MyScout, our app for data collection.”

Based on that knowledge, they can now act preventively in the area of crop protection. But there is one caveat: results from the past are no guarantee for those of the future. “That’s why we wanted to be able to establish connections between individual data modules, however without a connecting platform it proved difficult to establish those connections. That’s how Auxin came into being.”

Establishing connections
Auxin consists of two parts: the operating system (OS) and the data management platform (DMP). After going live, the focus was on making scout data insightful. “About a hundred users of MyScout were approached to test the Auxin platform. Initially, the focus was on the Netherlands. Customer service and ‘onboarding’ take quite some time, although the first feedback from pilot customers is that the system is very simple and clear.”

The Auxin platform can be quickly connected to other systems, such as the already existing Advice Generator and the soon-to-be-launched Trap Scanner. “The added value of Auxin becomes apparent as soon as you can start establishing connections,” Luuk says as he opens a screen on which greenhouses can be drawn digitally in an accurate manner. “Once we have done that, you can overlay multiple layers of data. Think of data from MyScout and from drone Scandr, with which the first three growers are already working in a pilot. In the operating system, the drone is controlled to scout for diseases and pests, or to count flowers. Subsequently, the data management system displays all the combined diseases and pests in the greenhouse. In this way, you have an overview of where diseases and pests are located in the greenhouse.”

Smart use of Hortivation Point has accelerated the connectivity of Auxin.

Smartly deploying the GPS of horticulture
The image that Luuk shows is reminiscent of the term ‘precision crop protection’, often used by policymakers. That’s where it’s heading. “With Auxin, we’re moving into that direction. It’s the near future. We’re working towards Integrated Crop Management (ICM), an upgrade from Integrated Pest Management (IPM).”

To enable the layering of data in the digitally drawn greenhouse, another innovation is crucial: Hortivation Point

“I call it the GPS of horticulture. It has accelerated our connectivity. What makes us unique is that we have encoded that regulation into technology. This provides you with a Google Translate for location determination technology. In this way, it can be used for numerous applications, including those from third parties.”

Where Hortivation Point was initially focused on greenhouse construction, Royal Brinkman is now deploying it more broadly.

Genuinely independent advice
The possibility of third party-usage is another element that makes the platform stand out. Aside from growers, the digital platform also targets product specialists and third parties. “Auxin uses a very large international database of knowledge about the operation of crop protection agents. We add legally vetted advice based on data from the Dutch Board for the Authorization of Plant Protection Products and Biocides (Ctgb), or a comparable source for the respective country.” Until now, this is only possible for the Netherlands.

Combined with Royal Brinkman’s 139 years of ‘green practical knowledge’, this will eventually result in genuinely independent cultivation advice, emphasizes the Digital Manager. Thanks to the combined data and knowledge, it’s also possible that a product we don’t sell appears to be the best option for a grower.”

Strategic role
When it comes to software and platforms, you can’t avoid artificial intelligence (AI). Auxin is also equipped with AI. “We train our AI with all kinds of data, which results in powerful models. Some developments may not seem interesting, but in fact they contain a huge amount of intelligence on which future developments will build.”

Another point of attention is data security. Do growers want to share their data, even if it is well secured and processed completely anonymously? “Today, growers increasingly understand that data sharing is key to joint further development.”

Auxin not only changes the life of growers, but also that of Royal Brinkman’s crop protection specialists. “Our advisors are increasingly playing a strategic role in the process of precision crop protection and sustainability. It’s no longer their primary task to advise the grower on the right agent, because that can be done via Auxin.”

Smart Home
Anyone who would like to know more about this new information can contact their Royal Brinkman contact person or an Auxin specialist who will assist growers in using the platform.

More news on the Auxin platform is expected soon. The use of the digital data analysis platform is new, but in fact many people are already familiar with it. Luuk draws a parallel consumer tool, Smart Home. “This tool also connects different systems. We’re going to do the same for the horticulture sector.”

For more information:
Royal Brinkman
[email protected]

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