For its 3rd Smart Agriculture Competition (a contest encouraging data scientists and agricultural researchers to develop productivity-boosting agricultural-boosting technology), Pinduoduo launched a vertical farming challenge.
Participants will have to produce lettuce in shipping containers, using technology including LED lighting, crop modeling, and algorithms to control input variables. They will take on the challenge of producing crops with higher yields and better quality using shorter growth cycles and less energy. Besides productivity and sustainability, the judging panel will also take into consideration the commercial viability of the different teams’ growing models.
Taking place at the Bright Seed Vertical Farming Pilot Campus in Chongming Island, Shanghai, the event is co-organized with China Agricultural University and Zhejiang University along with supporting organizations such as the FAO in China, and Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and Bright Seedbase.
The latest vertical farming challenge follows the first two editions of the Pinduoduo Smart Agriculture Competition, which took place in smart greenhouses in Yunnan province.
The inaugural competition in 2020 saw technology teams employ computer algorithms to control the strawberry growing process inside greenhouses. They beat top strawberry growers, producing 196% more fruit by weight on average. In the 2021 competition, data scientists and agronomists combined their knowledge to develop one-click planting solutions that farmers can use without the need for special training.
Several participating teams in the earlier competitions have gone on to implement their technology in working farms, as well as on large-scale pilots with the view of scaling the solutions.