Back to blog

An AI Robot Is Spotting Sick Tulips

An AI Robot Is Spotting Sick Tulips

In the Netherlands, where fields of tulips have always been a colourful part of spring, there's a surprising new twist. Robots are joining the party! Every year, the flowers come alive in a riot of colour, and now these clever machines are helping to keep the tulips healthy and beautiful.

These robots, which could be likened to high-tech farm workers, are equipped with sophisticated artificial intelligence that enables them to identify and remove tulip bulbs afflicted by disease. This task, traditionally carried out by human inspectors, involves a detailed examination of each plant for signs of the tulip-breaking virus. This disease not only diminishes the flower's vigour, resulting in smaller and weaker blooms, but also damages the bulbs, eventually preventing them from flowering at all.

Hiring seasonal workers to check tulips for disease has always been a headache for Dutch bulb growers. The number of people they need changes depending on how big their farm is and how serious the disease threat is that year. But finding enough good workers when things are busy is a real struggle.

AI Robot finding sick tulips
An AI robot at work finding sick tulips

Previously, controlling this disease required considerable human effort, with workers meticulously inspecting each row of tulips. Now, however, 45 of these robots traverse the fields, expertly checking each flower. Infected bulbs are marked and subsequently segregated from the healthy ones in a sorting facility, ensuring the disease does not spread further.

This shift to robotic assistance does more than just maintain plant health; it also preserves the scenic beauty of the tulip fields, which attract tourists globally. These tourists not only support the local economy but also perpetuate the renown of Dutch tulips worldwide.

AI robot finding sick tulips in the fieldThe AI Robot even works during the night hours.

Sure, there's a cost involved. Each robot costs a pretty penny – around €185,000, that's about the same as a fancy sports car! But the benefits outweigh the price tag. Less money spent on hiring seasonal workers, better spotting of diseases thanks to clever tech, and stunning tulips that keep the Dutch flower bulb industry blooming – it's a win-win.

And guess what? It means Dutch Grown can keep bringing you the best quality flower bulbs ever!

AI Robot checking tulips in the field in HollandThe AI Tulip Robot has cameras at the front and takes thousands of photos of the tulips. Then, using its AI model, it determines whether a tulip is diseased or not.
Meet Ben, our Flower Bulb Specialist
Meet Ben, our Flower Bulb Specialist

Gardening challenges?

Send me your questions! or read more about me.