04 mar 2022

Empowering growers with ecoation’s OKO

Empowering growers with ecoation’s OKO

Employing the very latest digital technologies, OKO helps growers project and predict pest and disease outbreaks earlier, even forecast their distribution, helping deliver significant efficiency improvements, while adding value streamlining other crop management activities – says Sam Gui, Biobest’s Market Development Manager for High Tech IPM. 

“Developed by Canadian company ecoation, the award-winning OKO supercomputing greenhouse platform that can be mounted on a cart collects huge amounts of crop data empowering growers to improve fruit quality, yield and production efficiencies through better targeted and managed IPM programmes.” 

In addition to closed-loop IPM insights, the location-aware OKO platform facilitates other crucial greenhouse solutions – yield production assessment and crop work quality control.

Closed-loop IPM

To optimise IPM programmes, fast & accurate data collection is important for decision making which translates to timely appropriate actions.

“Growers need the right information at the right time to make the best IPM decisions,” says Sam. “Providing the very best advice is central to Biobest’s philosophy; we set out to drive as much value as possible from knowledge, experience and technology.”

Driven around the greenhouse on the pipe rail system, OKO accurately measures and records huge amounts of data. It combines human knowledge and experience with machine precision and automation.

Pest and disease scouting observations are input manually by the OKO scouter/driver, while an array of additional data is recorded automatically. Fitted with upper and lower canopy climate and light sensors, the on-board computer records climate parameters including light and carbon dioxide levels, relative humidity and temperature on a square metre precise basis.

“With this comprehensive reliable data, it is easy to pinpoint pockets and problem areas in the crop early and do something about them,” explains Sam. “Based on this data, OKO can even predict where diseases are likely to start in the crop – helping target prophylactic treatments accordingly.”

Yield production assessment

On its travels through the crop, the OKO sensors can carry out fruit load counts and colour inspections. The system can provide kg/m² estimates of harvestable yield and help growers organise their harvesting activities based on those measurements. 

3D Climate Maps

OKO collects temperature, humidity, CO2 and light levels from bottom and top of crop canopy per each sqm. This allows growers to find anomalies in the distribution of environmental conditions and flag sub-optimal areas that need their attention. The current climate sensors in the market do not provide this detailed level of measurement per m². OKO enables growers to further optimize their greenhouse and provide a uniform environment that can guarantee more and higher quality production. 

Crop work check

Featuring an upgraded 8K 360 camera, OKO can also provide an immersive ‘Virtual Walk’ experience. 

“It offers complete operational visibility, at a row-by-row level, for growers and consultants anywhere in the world,” explains Sam. “This enables them to remotely assess the quality of crop work and detect issues potentially impacting on production and labour costs.  Another benefit of the OKO Virtual Walk is elimination of non-essential human traffic. If you need to walk inside the row just to look at a window or an irrigation line or a light fixture, the OKO virtual walk allows you to do that remotely, so it saves you time but also reduces the risk of human transmitted diseases in the plants.

“In the past, supervisors needed to be on site to walk crops to collect relevant information. OKO’s virtual crop walks generate additional value by cutting the labour costs of more highly paid staff.

“The mass of data from the crop is stored on an on-site server and uploaded to a web portal, accessible by the grower and the local Biobest representative. OKO doesn’t replace ‘in person’ technical visits from Biobest advisors, however it does provide a wealth of data by which the crop can be expertly steered to optimise quality, yield and ultimately grower returns.”