Pinduoduo, one of China’s largest e-commerce companies, is hosting the third Smart Agriculture Competition on Chongming Island in Shanghai. The competition challenges four finalist teams to grow high-quality lettuce in 90 days without sunlight or soil.

Each team is comprised of agriculturalists, data scientists, and plant engineering scientists who will employ interdisciplinary technologies such as artificial intelligence and agricultural planting to cultivate Crunchy lettuce, a variety known for its crispy and sweet taste, within a closed container environment.

The winning team will be judged by their ability to produce higher yields of better lettuce while using lower energy consumption, earning them the championship title.

Planting lettuce via AI
Lettuce is one of the most popular and widely consumed green leafy vegetables. However, in China, the wholesale price of lettuce is significantly affected by seasons. Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed that lettuce prices are higher during the Spring Festival period and early autumn while a bit lower in summer.