Back in 2017, Grow Director was established, and they released their first-generation sensor, a type of all-in-one controller, to automate the cultivation process. It was a great solution for home growers, but it still left a lot to be desired for larger-scale cultivation. The second generation was more robust, yet something was still missing. With the third generation, they had finally cracked the code, but they wanted to improve further. This brings us to now, as Grow Director is on their way to introducing their latest features: a grow book for growers and true self-learning AI.
According to Noam Dekel, agronomist at Grow Director, in many cases, when there is a conversation about AI in the industry, it's not really AI but a regular chatbot and sophisticated algorithms that take in information and provide solutions. However, AI needs to learn to be considered true AI.
"We are at the forefront of creating real AI, not just algorithms to follow. It really is a self-learning system with data, analysis, and client feedback. That's what we aim for with our new patented features," says Noam.
Like many other sensors, the measurements taken by Grow Director sensors are sent to a cloud, and growers can receive messages about the conditions of their greenhouse in real time. But they go a bit further than that. Their solution also receives information from climate satellites, so it can understand and act upon weather forecasts up to two weeks ahead. The AI then analyses the information and automatically changes the environment in the greenhouse. For instance, if it knows a heatwave is coming, it will adjust the environment, offering a more proactive approach to growing.
"Grow Director is also in the process of getting the system familiar with various diseases such as downy mildew, powdery mildew, leaf disease, fungi, and others. By identifying the environmental conditions that allow the fungi to thrive, and with that information and the sensory data, we can predict when and where the fungi will start with up to 90% accuracy. The system can then control and change the environment accordingly."
However, even with the advancements in AI, Grow Director's new system works with growers, gaining insights from them about their cultivation. Growers are still relevant, and we haven't forgotten that. For this reason, they have another new feature, the Growbook. It's an operational diary where everything that happens in your greenhouse is logged so it can be analyzed to improve cultivation methods further. This way, growers can learn alongside the self-learning AI.
"That learning curve is important when it comes to AI, as it's almost like a child, a very smart child, but still. The more it sees what you do or learns new things, the better it will understand and work with your knowledge and its own. It's similar to hiring a new, professional grower. They will have the knowledge but will still need to get accustomed to your greenhouse's specific conditions. It learns along with the cultivation, and after about 3 cycles, it will have its own smart insights," says Noam.
"We truly believe our product is something that will make a difference, that is why we decided to broaden our focus to general agriculture, thereby expanding our market. While our origins are in specialized cultivation, our shift enables us to serve a wider audience. We can work with any type of plant, requiring just three things: electricity, internet, and black coffee for Noam. This versatility allows us to cater to diverse agricultural needs," Noam concludes.
The AI function will soon be taken to the market and is already in use in some locations in Israel. The features will be presented during IPM Essen, January 23 to 26, where you can find Grow Director at the booth located at 4B15.6.