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RFID Helps Grow and Track Potted Plants
In the Netherlands, plant growers are using an RFID-based solution from WPS Horti Systems to improve plant health and production.
Jul 20, 2007—A Dutch company called WPS Horti Systems is providing growers a high-tech, RFID-based means of improving plant health and production, from seed to sale. Nearly five years ago, WPS worked with European auto-ID technology systems integrator Zetes to develop the Plant Order System, using RFID hardware from Tagsys. The company has been selling the system ever since, and a dozen of its customers have deployed it.
Tagsys interrogators, mounted under the conveyor systems moving the plants from one growing area to the next, read the tag of each passing pot. At various stages of growth, the conveyors bring each plant to a mounted digital camera to be photographed. The Zetes software correlates each image with the container's RFID tag number, then sends this data to a program that analyzes characteristics of the plant's image—such as size, shape or color—and determines whether the plant is adequately healthy. Once the plant is grown and ready to ship, says Olivier Burah, Tagsys' vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA), it is removed from the container, which can then be reused for another potted plant.
Aside from monitoring each plant's health, the Plant Order System also enables growers to perform automated inventory counts and updates on each type of plant. On a daily basis, workers at the greenhouse tend to any ailing plants, applying fertilizer or taking whatever other measures they deem appropriate. Prior to implementing the Plant Order System, growers had to manually inspect all seedlings and plants in the greenhouse to find those requiring special care.
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