What exactly are substrate- or slab-specific models?
Bouwens: "In the 1990s, we started using sensors in growing media to measure the effect of nutrients and water in the substrate. In 2013, the technology developed further, allowing us to start using data models. That was the moment of the introduction of GroSens. However, accurate measurements were only the first step. We saw that growers also needed data analysis and customised advice. For that reason, we fine-tuned the technology and improved the models even further, so that they fully meet the growers' needs. GroSens is a complete system with high-quality sensors, data and software, tailored to each substrate model. That way, growers can look beyond the raw data and get actionable advice through the e-Gro-platform."
Why are substrate-optimised models needed?
"In practice, it is often very difficult for growers to convert measurements and raw data into understandable results and actions because this data is collected in a partially saturated medium (substrate, soil, etc.)," Bouwens continues. "In addition, every growing medium is different, which makes it difficult to translate the data accurately. Since Grodan is known in the industry for its wide range of cultivation media for many different crops, we took that extra step and developed mat-specific models. This sets us apart in the market. Thanks to our substrate-specific models, we can offer more accurate and reliable data. These are linked to the specific dimensions and settings of the different substrate products. This allows better individual results to be generated by type of growing medium, allowing growers to improve their decision-making in terms of root zone management."
"Growers benefit most when they combine our specific GroSens models with the advice they get from us," he adds. "The system gives growers more control and better access to all the root zone and irrigation information they need, from any location, 24/7. Since launching our slab-specific models, we have received feedback from several growers that the data generated by the sensors is very reliable and can be used effectively for crop steering. And that's what we do it for!"
What is the added value of the slab-optimised/specific data models?
Bouwens: "It is very important that the user can rely on the data produced by the sensor and the system. The system may generate a notification that something is wrong in the greenhouse. At that moment, growers have to take a decision in an instant. For this reason, among others, it is very important that the data from the GroSens system is reliable."
"Moreover, when growers have a lot of confidence in the accuracy of the data, they will also dare to experiment with the WC and nutrients," Bouwens continues. "With reliable and accurate data, they can optimise their crops, root zone management and growth."
How were these models developed?
"We put a lot of energy and years of laboratory studies and field tests into the development of these models," Bouwens smiles. "For the development and fine-tuning of these customised, special data models, which are optimised for Grodan's cultivation media, we worked together with various experts and specialists.