Artificial intelligence can warn growers of damage and predict the harvest – long before the human eye can detect it. At Kabbarp’s greenhouse, a large-scale pilot project using EcoSense and thousands of pots of lettuce is currently underway. So far, 2,500 plants have been grown with AI. “AI will help us raise our minimum level and make us more efficient,” says CEO Peter Säll.
At Kabbarp’s, this pilot project is currently one of the first and largest in the country in terms of AI cultivation. and they are no stranger to testing innovations on the technology front. Last year Peter came into contact with the Stockholm-based startup company Ecobloom, which develops AI-driven data management systems for indoor growers. The result was a customized solution with nodes and cameras in the facility’s smallest greenhouse. The experiment started a month ago, while they have also long considered taking the step towards farming 2.0 with AI, artificial intelligence.
“We are the first greenhouse grower in Sweden to test this. I haven’t found anyone else who has installed AI in their production.” says Peter. He sees new technology such as AI as an important complement to the business. “I usually compare it to if you buy a Volvo from 1973. It’s great, you can drive it – but it’s quite simple. This is how you buy a Volvo from 2023. It has all the technology that makes you a better driver, although you might not think about it.”
The system is accessible on a home page in a laptop. Factors such as light conditions, humidity and temperature are evaluated in different charts. The greenhouses are already equipped with a system that opens skylights if it gets too hot or pulls shade fabrics if the sun is shining. AI’s only task at the moment is to monitor three rounds of a total of 2,500 lettuce plants in various growth phases. The screen indicates when a batch is ready to harvest.
AI sees things before the human eye. If a plant starts to get stressed, there is a reason. The sun could be too strong, there could be pests that are not seen right away, or it’s too cold or too windy. But AI is not here to replace our employees or the work they do. AI is an aid.
He also points out that AI is not a ready-made system that you buy and install, but a product that is developed together with the employees of the company and gets better over time. AI is self-learning, and gets better and better the more variables and information you give it.
The team at Kabbarps say: “We have high hopes for pest control and that AI will be able to see fungal diseases at an early stage. If we can reduce wastage, we can make money from.”
Oleksiy Guzhva, researcher and university lecturer at the Swedish University of Agriculture, sees many advantages in a future where AI gains ground in the farming sector.
– As traceability and quality control. AI gives us the opportunity to have transparent food chains in food production. It is independent data, it cannot be cheated. But he also sees challenges. Such as data security and risks of information from a specific cultivation being leaked. People must realize that AI is only an aid that makes the job easier, but that the human being is always at the center. AI should never make its own decisions. Farming is a way of life and AI would not take the farmer’s job, says Oleksiy Guzhva.
Peter Säll is sure that it is possible to gain market share with AI. By growing higher quality lettuce and spices. AI can also speed up the process. When we think “this lettuce will be ready to harvest tomorrow” while AI notifies you: “It is actually ready today”. Then you can harvest and sell within the day – you have saved time and that way we can generate profits, he says.
Do you think AI will make you better growers?
Absolutely. It will help us raise our bottom line and improve efficiency us.