Duoduo Smart Agriculture Competition launched


Duoduo Smart Agriculture Competition launched

Artificial Intelligence VS Farmers: who can produce the best strawberries

It’s man versus machine in a smart agriculture competition pitting top scientists and growers to see whether artificial intelligence or human experience will triumph in producing the best strawberries.  

The inaugural Duo Duo Smart Agriculture Competition, organized jointly by the China Agricultural University and Pinduoduo, will take place over four months in the plateau of Yunnan Province and see competitors from around the world come up with planting methods that are best suited for the local conditions, using either advanced AI technologies or horticultural know-how.  

Held under the technical guidance of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, this is the first cross-disciplinary smart agriculture competition in China organized by a technology company and university.

“China’s agricultural development is in an important era of transformation and upgrading,” said Gong Yuan-shi, Vice President of China Agricultural University.

“Rapid innovations and significant breakthroughs in agricultural technologies would have a tremendous impact on the development of the agricultural industry.”  

Through this competition, the organizers hope to encourage more young farmers and scholars to develop localized solutions that will further lower costs and digitize agriculture.

Young Scholars and Top-Tier Farmers to Jointly Explore Future of Agriculture

According to the Organizing Committee, this competition will feature two categories of teams - Science and Technology Teams and Traditional Teams - which will separately focus on the recruitment of scholars from universities and top-tier farmers from major strawberry-producing regions.  

Over the course of the competition, the Science and Technology Teams will remotely grow strawberries in digital and unmanned greenhouses. They will formulate and optimize AI solutions, based on growth data and greenhouse conditions gleamed from IoT devices, cameras and sensors.

The aim is to achieve unmanned strawberry production that combines quality and efficiency. The Traditional Teams, on the other hand, will rely on their collective experience in planting and skills in agricultural management, to upgrade traditional smallholder production and challenge the AI systems developed by their counterparts. 

Initial recruitment for the competition started from May 6th and has attracted registrations of scholars and talents from

  • Wageningen University,
  • University of Twente,
  • Eindhoven University of Technology,
  • Nanjing Agricultural University,
  • Northwest A&F University and o
  • ther top agricultural universities of the Netherlands and China.

Top-tier farmers from Donggang County of Liaoning Province, Changfeng County of Anhui Province and other top strawberry-producing counties in China have also proactively registered to take part in the competition.

 “This is an open competition and we encourage scholars and farmers from academia, institutions, companies to form mixed teams and jointly explore the application of smart agriculture in our nation,” said Lan Ke, head of the Organizing Committee.

The core purpose of the competition is not the winning or losing, but in encouraging and inspiring more practitioners to be involved and more easily spread the achievements in agricultural technology, Lan said.

At present, the recruitment for the competition is underway, with the deadline for registration being June 6th.

Contestants can refer to the official website of the competition https://smartagricompetition.com/register for details and registration.

Qualified teams will be invited to participate in the preliminary competition and present their ideas and plans to the panel of experts. The top four teams of each category will enter the final competition. 

Academicians and Scholars to Make Up 15-Member Expert Judging Panel Encouraging Diversity in Innovation

More than 15 academicians and scholars will join in the competition as judges and technical consultants to provide knowledge support and fair evaluation of the outcomes.  

According to Zhao Chunjiang, academician at the CAE, the competition will be judged on three key criteria, namely the technical advancement, practicality and economics of the proposed solutions.

As for the strawberries produced, both the quantity and quality will count toward the evaluation, so as to encourage diversity in innovation.  

To promote the implementation of the competition’s outcomes, Pinduoduo will financially support the scientific research of the winning groups.

Meanwhile, these groups will have opportunities to work with top experts to help small-scale farmers apply digital agricultural technologies in the Duo Duo Farms project. 

The application and production of digital agriculture in China is still at an elementary stage, said Zhao Jiazhen, co-founder of Pinduoduo, As the largest online agricultural platform in China, Pinduoduo will do its utmost to promote the application of world-class digital agricultural solutions in China. This is “not only the long-term strategy of our enterprise, but also our social responsibility,” he said. “Science and technology are changing agriculture and food production.

How to ensure the digital transformation of agriculture is a question that must be answered,” said Zhang Zhongjun, Assistant Representative of the FAO Representation in China.

FAO has developed a variety of applications, databases and platforms to support agricultural digitalization around the world.

Zhang said that he hopes that contestants could proactively confront challenges, formulate a set of digital agricultural technology models and solutions which are practicable, cost-efficient, replicable and can be easily rolled out so as to accelerate the development of digital agriculture.

Judge panel & consultants list of the competition 

  1. Cao Wei-Xing, Professor at Nanjing Agricultural University and former Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources;
  2. Chen Kunsong, Qiushi Distinguished Professor of Zhejiang University, member of Agriculture and Forest Faculty, the Seventh Commission of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education; 
  3. Du Jinkun, Associate Professor, Director of Social Service Division, China Agricultural University;
  4. Erik van Ingen, Blockchain and Data Analytics Specialist, Digital Innovation Unit, IT Division, FAO;
  5. Fulco Wijdooge, General Manager, Ridder Group;
  6. He Dongjian, Professor at Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University and Director, Key Laboratory of Agricultural Internet of Things, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs;
  7. Li Daoliang, Full Professor of College of Information and Electrical Engineering and Director of the National Innovation Center for Digital Fishery, China Agricultural University, Deputy Director of the Expert Consultant Committee for National Agricultural and Rural Informatization, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Chair of the Work Group for Advanced Information Processing in Agriculture, International Federation for Information Processing;
  8. Li Jianming, Professor at Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University;
  9. Mei Fangquan, Professor of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences; Advisor and former Standing Deputy Director of State Food and Nutrition Consultant Committee (SFNCC);
  10. Selvaraju Ramasamy, Head, Research and Extension Unit, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department, FAO;
  11. Wang Hongqing, Professor at China Agricultural University;
  12. Wang Xiaolin, Professor, Deputy Dean of the Institute for Six-sector Economy, Fudand University;
  13. Yang Puyun, Agricultural Training and Extension Officer, Research and Extension Unit, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department, FAO;
  14. Zeng Meng, Information Technology Officer, Digital Innovation Unit, IT Division, FAO;
  15. Zhao Chunjiang, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), Director and Principal Expert of the National Engineering Research Center for Information Technology in Agriculture.

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