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Recap of the event:

Latest trends and developments discussed at Gobal Orchid Event

Will robotic co-workers be the new helpful employees for orchid growers? This, and much more, was discussed at yesterday’s first virtual Global Orchid Event. The event was organized by Global Orchid Growers (GOG), which is an international group of 10 Phalaenopsis growers*, representing 7 countries and 5 continents, that regularly share their knowledge and experience, with the aim of improving orchid cultivation worldwide. As knowledge exchange is an important aspect of GOG, and strengthened by COVID-19, they decided to organize this digital event, facilitated by Jungle Talks.

Participants, which included producers, breeders and propagators from all over the world, were able to learn more about the latest trends and developments in orchid cultivation, and interact and discuss them with other professionals from the floriculture sector. 

*GOG consists of the following Phalaenopsis producers: Ter Laak Orchids, OK Plant, Piko Plant, Gartneriet Rønbæk A/S, Ocean Orchids, LVG Plants, Westerlay Orchids, CosMic Plants, Ecoflora, and Royal Base Group. Click here for the Global Orchid Growers company overview.

Topics discussed
During the event, four sessions on different themes have been discussed by two experts per session. The themes were: autonomous growth, Lighting, Future business models, and International branding & storytelling. And after the session, further discussion was possible per theme in separate breakout rooms. Afterwards, keynote speaker Ruud Koomstra took (coordinator SDG 7 alliance) took the floor and talked about energy transition. Below, some highlights of what has been discussed.  

Robotic co-workers and drones
Future greenhouses will include robotic co-workers and drones to optimize orchid cultivation, according to the Autonomous Growth session. Frans-Peter Dechering, co-founder of Corvus Drones, and Simone Keijzer, founder and CEO of Gearbox Innovations, shared how the advantages of  autonomous growing can be beneficial for orchid growers for several reasons. Dechering explained how their drones take footage and digitize every individual plant in the greenhouse. As a result, growers have data and statistics that help them monitor the seed germination, crop growth, and the development of the leaves, for example. Using this technology enables orchid growers to get the best, most objective data set of their plants, and can thus better estimate the state of their crop as a whole. Keijzer’s robotic colleagues enhance the work of growers and breeders to work smarter. Gearbox’s robots assist the employees and measure everything constantly, in a consistent and objective manner. Their GearVision, for example, is a quality inspector that gives a detailed analysis of the plant, such as its height or tracking the motion of the plant, which can help the breeder make important decisions. The breeder will know exactly what the quality of their crop is, the real time stock in the greenhouse without having to count, and whether to turn off the light earlier, for example. The moderator of the session, Ronald Hoek, CEO and co-founder of Blue Radix, mentioned that seven orchid growing companies started an autonomous growing project this month. This project enables growers to share information and as a result, the development of using technology in orchid cultivation will be much faster.

Orchids and LED's
The use of LED's in the global horticultural market increased rapidly over the last 5 years and it is expected to increase even further and faster in 2025. Also in the orchid market, the same trend is expected. While there are still many growers using HPS in 2020; less than 5% of the surface is using LED, but in 2025, it is expected that it will be divided in one third HPS, hybrid and LED. This and much more technical info on the need of artificial light in orchids, the basics of light, the orchid spectrum and so on, was shared by Menno Gobielje, plant specialist floriculture at Signify during the lightning session. Arno Wartewig, founder and owner of Orance also shared his insights, who also expects the market for LED's to grow. In the future, he also expects an increase in efficiency (but no where near the steps of the last 5 years), expects that more global companies as well as chip/diode companies will enter the market, that there will be a shakeout on players in the market, that dimming will be used more frequently and that steering on spectrum will be one of the next things on a big scale.

"So, if you are a grower and you want to invest is it better to wait, because there are so many developments and improvements going on regarding efficiency?", was one of the questions. According to the experts, it is best to calculate first on the technical and business side if it is the right time to invest, but they would not advise anyone to wait. "Something better will always come along, that's not only with lights, but with all products, and if you invest in it now, you can also benefit from it now. In the Netherlands, for example, the payback period is 5 years," they said.

Telling a story 
In the international branding & storytelling session, Jasper Claus, founder and creative director at 1Camera and Jose Gonzalez, director at Rum Zacapa shared their experience. Interesting about these presentations was the fact that these experts showed their view on the topic from a different product type or without knowledge of the orchid market. Some takeaways from this session, regarding storytelling, are that there are three ingredients, namely the main character needs to be emphatic, a relatable thing, there needs to be a sort of struggle, and there needs to be a transformation. Click here for an example of storytelling in a video.

Appetite for growth
Captatl markets have discovered horticulture and it has been shown that this access to capital has a competitive advantage. And in floriculture it is expected that we will see the same happening. This was just one of the topics discussed at the future business models session. The experts in this session were Nick Houshower, principal at private equity fund Equilibrium and Lennard Toma, sparking wisdom at KeytoeY

Innovative format
The digital event was facilitated by Jungle Talks in a innovative virtual meeting space where people can easily attend presentations, network in break out rooms and talk to each other online without having to install any external programs. At the end of the event, everyone, like in real life, was invited to go to the 'Orchid Bar' to meet, greet and catch up.



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