Pinduoduo, China’s largest agricultural platform, has teamed up with Wageningen University & Research (WUR) of the Netherlands to study ways to improve the quality of greenhouse-grown tomatoes.
WUR is widely regarded as one of the world’s top agricultural research institutions. The study will experiment with varying levels of nutrient concentration and lighting in high-tech greenhouses to improve the quality of fruit without compromising on the output.
To be conducted in two phases, the study first experimented with faster-growing dwarf tomatoes before validating the findings using regular greenhouse tomato cultivation. The dwarf tomatoes can be modified for cultivation in vertical farms, while the high-wire tomatoes are commonly grown in greenhouses. Bumble bees are employed to help with pollination, and the tomatoes are grown without pesticides.
The growing plan involves altering light levels that the crop is exposed to and adjusting the electrical conductivity of the nutrient solution that the crop is grown in to derive optimal combinations or ‘crop recipes’ that growers can implement. Using these optimized ‘crop recipes’ in a controlled greenhouse environment, Chinese growers can supply consumers with even better-quality tomatoes all year-round.
“Crop quality can be greatly improved through modifications of cultivation conditions under modern horticulture technologies,” said Professor Leo Marcelis, Head of Horticulture and Product Physiology Department at WUR, in a release. “We are glad to partner with Pinduoduo on this project.”
The WUR study is the latest agricultural research collaboration by Pinduoduo, which has worked with leading global research institutes to advance food and agricultural science. As a leading agricultural platform connecting 16 million farmers to over 850 million consumers, Pinduoduo has made it a strategic priority to promote agricultural modernization using technology.
“Consumers are seeking higher-quality produce that is both tastier and healthier, and advancements in plant science and technology can help meet this demand,” said Xin Yi Lim, Pinduoduo’s Executive Director of Sustainability and Agricultural Impact. “As a user-focused agricultural platform, we are supporting research at WUR that can meet the needs of our users and better the livelihoods of growers in China.”
Founded in 2015, Pinduoduo is a staunch supporter of precision agriculture through its annual Smart Agriculture Competition, which it organizes jointly with China Agricultural University and Zhejiang University, with technical guidance from the FAO and WUR. The competition has become a proving ground for many young agricultural researchers, who have gone on to put the technology they developed to real-world use.