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Inversolar shines a light on greenhouse agriculture

Inversolar shines a light on greenhouse agriculture

The first digital version of the European Solar Greenhouses Congress in December brought the technology closer to society. For two days, experts, researchers, and scientific communicators in the fields of nutrition, chemistry, economics, virology, and mathematics shared little-known aspects and debunked some ingrained myths regarding greenhouses.

The talks began with a presentation by virologist Enrique Royuela: “How to survive a Zombie Apocalypse”, which highlighted the key role that solar greenhouses have played in guaranteeing the production of fresh food during the pandemic.

Later on, chemist Daniel Torregrosa dealt with prejudices and fears about pesticides, while mathematician Clara Grima spoke about the love affair between maths and agriculture, dating back to ancient Egypt, as well as Big Data, predictive models, and the incorporation of robots in the sector.

Deborah Garcia spoke about “The Demonisation of Plastic”, recognising the value of greenhouse covers and their low environmental impact due to their durability and efficiency when producing food. Lastly, economist Daniel Lacalle defined the sector as a virus-proof agribusiness that demands greater attention from the political sector and society. Agribusiness has generated less unemployment and has had fewer infections thanks to the professionalism of its agents.

Inversolar is available on Cute Solar’s YouTube channel, with presentations available to view in Spanish, English, and German.

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Fluence broad spectrum LED lighting selected for new high-tech quarantine greenhouse in the Netherlands

Fluence broad spectrum LED lighting selected for new high-tech quarantine greenhouse in the Netherlands, Photo courtesy of Fluence by OSRAM
Photo courtesy of Fluence by OSRAM

 

Fluence has been selected by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) as the lighting provider for Serre Red, the university’s new, high-tech quarantine greenhouse. Serre Red will be used for critical research on plant diseases—caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasitic nematodes—including quarantine pathogens, as well as research on genetically modified organisms.

Built by Bosman van Zaal, Serre Red is one of the most advanced quarantine research facilities constructed to date. It features 63 compartments, ranging from 15 to 52 square meters with individual climate control, air filtering and access locks. Extensive technical equipment has been installed in a corridor sunk below ground level to avoid excess shade. Other features of the fully electric greenhouse include insulated double glazing, external shading, heat/cold storage and autoclaving, which sterilises all materials including water and waste before leaving the greenhouse.

Broad spectrum lighting:
Choosing LED over HPS

To reduce the influence of artificial light on their experiments, WUR’s researchers required broad spectrum lighting. Unifarm, the university’s greenhouse and field research facility, ran a market consultation during November and December 2019, then selected four manufacturers from a tender in January 2020. Fluence was granted the order in April after the four potential solutions were examined by WUR’s scientific committee.

“Traditionally, our greenhouses are equipped with HPS lighting,” said Dolf Straathof, head of Unifarm. “As we want to eliminate any influences that artificial lighting could have on experiments, we looked for a solution that came closest to the spectrum that our scientific team specified as optimal.”

“Fluence was one of those consulted, and they proposed higher light levels than we initially specified, which concurred with recommendations from our researchers,” Straathof continued. “The PhysioSpec® solution that Fluence proposed also fit our spectral requirements. In the end, Fluence offered us the best possible solution and exceeded our requirements for uniformity, offering the highest uniformity for a mix of low and tall crops throughout all compartments.” 

Optimising light levels and uniformity

Each compartment will have individual lighting controls, linked to the Hoogendoorn climate control system. “This is the first time WUR has chosen LED, and specifically broad spectrum LED, as their standard lighting solution for a research greenhouse at Unifarm,” said Theo Tekstra, Fluence’s technical director in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and lead for the project’s design and implementation. “LED solutions have the added advantage that they can be controlled without change in spectrum or loss of efficiency, offering constant light levels and optimal daily light integral. By using our compact VYPR 2×2 full spectrum LED fixtures with the new compact PSU drivers and VYPR reflectors, we minimize shading and optimize overall uniformity. We are extremely proud that our solution was selected as the best in the tender and that we were awarded the contract for this prestigious project.”

Critical research for the world’s growers

Fluence supports, sponsors and collaborates on horticultural research projects throughout the world, including its membership in the Wageningen Research Club of 100—part of the WUR Business Unit for Greenhouse Horticulture in Bleiswijk.

The spread of viral infections—such as the tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV)—remains a top concern for growers throughout the world. The new Serre Red facility enables WUR to expand and intensify its research capabilities, maintaining its position as a world leader in research on horticultural crop pathogens.

“ToBRFV currently threatens tomato, bell pepper and chili pepper crops throughout the globe, causing most production greenhouses to close to visitors and creating increased costs for growers through extensive disinfection and other precautionary measures,” said Dr. Theoharis Ouzounis, horticultural scientist at Fluence. “There is no treatment other than prevention and pervasive damage has been reported globally. Research into prevention and treatment of viral diseases is extremely important to safeguard our food production.”

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Fluence Expands PhysioSpec™ Spectra Offering on VYPR Series for Global Greenhouse Cultivators

Fluence’s extended PhysioSpec™ spectra enable growers to optimize lighting strategies for any crop in any growth stage or geographic location. (Photo courtesy of Fluence by OSRAM)
Fluence’s extended PhysioSpec™ spectra enable growers to optimize lighting strategies for any crop in any growth stage or geographic location. (Photo courtesy of Fluence by OSRAM)
PRESS RELEASE

 

Enhanced spectra offering empowers growers to balance lighting efficacy with crop quality and yield

 

AUSTIN, Texas (June 4, 2020) — Fluence by OSRAM (Fluence), a leading global provider of energy-efficient LED lighting solutions notably for agriculture production, announced the launch of four additional spectra on its VYPR top light series, featuring market-leading efficacies up to 3.8 µmol/J. From broad white to high red, Fluence’s extended PhysioSpec™ spectra enable growers to optimize lighting strategies for any crop in any growth stage or geographic location.

“In our relentless pursuit of innovative lighting solutions for crop cultivation, we’ve conducted in-depth research on plant response under various spectra with a range of crops,” said David Cohen, CEO of Fluence. “One of the biggest challenges for cultivators around the world is the ability to tailor lighting strategies to their specific crops and environments. We’re excited to help them solve that challenge with a greater variety of light spectra to meet their unique needs.”

With expanded PhysioSpec™ spectra, the VYPR top light series offers higher efficacies (up to 3.8 µmol/J) and higher photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) (up to 2330 µmol/s) per fixture over comparable lighting technologies.

  • The PhysioSpec™ BROAD spectra offers continuous spectral emission across PAR 400 to 700 nm wavelength range, balancing energy efficiency with quality of light for desired plant response and human work environment.
  • The PhysioSpec™ DUAL spectra features red and blue spectral emission bands that maximize energy efficiency, helping to reduce energy costs and operational expenses for growers.

The latest VYPR top lighting system also features a patented thermal management technology, more compact and efficient power supplies, three new mounting options for flexible installation and new reflectors. Built for greenhouses and high-bay indoor cultivators producing year-round, the VYPR series enables growers to maintain predictable production, increase crop yields and improve plant quality compared to conventional production systems.

“Growers have the best understanding of their crops in their respective cultivation environments,” said Timo Bongartz, Fluence’s general manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Choosing and implementing a supplemental lighting strategy should be a collaborative process. With our expanded spectra and new top light features, we are empowered with more tools to help our customers achieve their growing targets, enabling growers to save energy when possible, optimize light uniformity and increase light levels.” 

For more information about Fluence, visit www.fluence.science.

 

About Fluence by OSRAM

Fluence Bioengineering, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of OSRAM, creates the most powerful and energy-efficient LED lighting solutions for commercial crop production and research applications. Fluence is the leading LED lighting supplier in the global cannabis market and is committed to enabling more efficient crop production with the world’s top vertical farms and greenhouse produce growers. Fluence global headquarters are based in Austin, Texas, with its EMEA headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands. For more information about Fluence, visit www.fluence.science.

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Call for ban on organic greenhouse production out of season

The National Federation of Organic Agriculture, the Climate Action Network, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation and Greenpeace have launched a petition to the French Minister of Agriculture and Food to more strictly supervise the heating of greenhouses in organic farming and prohibit the production of organic fruits and vegetables out of season.

Organic farming in France continues to expand exponentially. In 2017, 14% of France’s agricultural organisations were engaged in organic farming and accounted for nearly 6.5% total farmed area. These two figures represent a rise of 40% and 50% respectively compared to 2013, according to Agency ORGANIC. However, there are claims that organic farming in France is not as rigorous when conducted in glasshouses – heating a greenhouse using non-renewables does not appear to be very organic. As a result, the National Committee of Organic Agriculture (CNAB) is deliberating whether to ban heating greenhouses for the production of organic fruit and vegetables out of season. So far, the vote has been postponed twice. Organic specifications clearly impose “respect for natural cycles” and “responsible use of energy”. A study found that tomatoes grown in France under a greenhouse produces four times more greenhouse gas than a tomato imported from Spain and eight times more than a tomato produced in France in season.

The petition has already collected 40,000 signatures and is supported by six key players: the fair trade platform France, WECF, Bioconsom, Justice Pesticides, the Ecotable Community and Good for the climate.

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Greensys symposium brings the greenhouse world together

Greensys symposium brings the greenhouse world together

Greensys 2019, the international symposium on technological advances and greenhouse innovation, will take place in Angers (France) on 17-20 June 2019. This world event is expected to host more than 600 delegates of 32 nationalities. From 17 to 19 June, three scientific days will cover a dozen topics such as: greenhouse systems and design, climate modeling, lighting, and energy. The 19th June will be dedicated to meetings between scientists and professionals around the development of robotics in greenhouses, followed by visits to companies and technical centres on June 20th. www.greensys2019.org

 

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Massive growth of Russian vegetable output

Massive growth of Russian vegetable output

Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture has announced that greenhouse vegetable production is set to hit 1.3 million tons this year, vastly outstripping last year’s record crop (1.1 million tons). And this exponential growth is showing no sign of slowing down, with forecasts of reaching around 2 million tons within five years, thanks partly to sizeable government funding, which almost doubled last year to Rbs240 million. The country’s winter greenhouse production area climbed by over 10% to 2,500ha in 2018, with the strategic Stavropol Territory seeing a 5% increase in volumes to 290,500 tons. Average yields stood at 43kg/m2 in 2018, a rise of 26% cent over 2016. Meanwhile, in March, the first crop of cucumbers and tomatoes will be harvested at a new greenhouse in the Ryazan region just outside Moscow.

 

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Construction underway of giant tomato greenhouse in Suffolk

suffolk tomate

A giant tomato greenhouse is to begin operations in Suffolk, UK. In the first stage of a £30m project, Sterling Suffolk Ltd has built a huge Dutch-style glasshouse equal in size to eleven football pitches. The first tomatoes will be planted in December ready for harvesting from mid-February 2019. The tomato vines will be produced using hydroponics. It is environmentally friendly, with air-circulation systems and water-collection systems. 
The tomatoes would grow in natural light, with a season from March through to October, and one hectare of plants would grow under lights at other times. 
This giant greenhouse will also be used to produce a range of salad vegetables, fruit and flowers. The firm aims to produce 50,000 vines per week of top-quality tomatoes.
Cliff Matthews of Sterling Suffolk Ltd said, “It is the most environmentally efficient glasshouse in the UK. The first of its kind here. Real glass is more efficient for this. This is agriculture on an industrial scale. There is an art and science to growing tomatoes and we have a very good expert involved, Richard Lewis, one of the best in the UK.” 
The three-phase project will cost around £30m over the next three years. When complete there will be 17 hectares of production glasshouses, offices, and on-site packaging facilities. The site will employ between 40 and 50 people.
 

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Slowdown of expansion of Mexican protected agriculture

tomato mexico

Mexico’s tomato production is expected to remain stable in 2018/19 at 3.4 million tons. However, there has been a shift in recent years from open field production to higher-yielding protected agriculture. Nevertheless, despite growing rapidly over the past few years to 15,200 ha in 2016/17, Mexico’s greenhouse tomato production has begun to slow, with less than 1,000 ha added last year.

Mexico’s farmers are being attracted to protected agriculture due to the benefits it offers in terms of production, quality, pest control, and reduced risk exposure to climate change. The main products produced using this technology are tomato (70%), bell pepper (16%), cucumber (10%), as well as flowers, chilli peppers, berries, and papaya.

In the state of Sinaloa alone, where there is a traditional winter tomato cycle, around 14,000 ha are devoted to tomatoes, of which about 3,800 ha are under protected production. These shade-houses are mainly for exported produce. While open field production tends to yield around 50 tons/ha, greenhouse/shade-house yields generally range from 150 tons/ha to 200 tons/ha, although they vary significantly among producers, variety, and state.

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Netherlands greenhouse agriculture targets climate-neutrality by 2040

invernadero climatizado

As the Dutch greenhouse agricultural sector aims to be climate-neutral by 2040, sustainable alternatives to natural gas are constantly being sought. Around twenty greenhouse producers now use a form of bio-energy to heat their farm, such as a biomass boiler for heat or a bio-cogeneration (bio-CHP) for heat and electricity.

There are different types of woody biomass, each with its own chain and its own advantages and disadvantages. Biomass boilers in greenhouse horticulture run on three types of woody biomass: wood pellets, wood chips and shreds. Most greenhouse growers use local woodchip or wood shreds, which are easily available from nearby forests and other locations. Municipalities see this as a useful use of local waste. However, the use of wood pellets is expected to rise. Pellets are compressed and dried, have a high energy density and contain up to 15% less moisture. These pellets are made from sawdust from the wood-processing industry or from clean waste wood.

There is an international market for pellets as they can be transported and stored cheaply over longer distances. It is important however to ensure that the pellets have been produced sustainably. The pellets are used in a different type of boiler than wood shreds. These boilers are often cheaper and require less maintenance as the pellets tend to be of consistent quality. There also tends to be less ash residue after combustion. However, the pellets are more expensive than shreds as they require more processing (grinding, drying and pressing).

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Dutch strawberry growers aim to vanquish the Spanish

fresas holandesas

Dutch greenhouse strawberry growers are looking to usurp the current king of the supermarkets – the Spanish strawberry. Around a dozen large-scale strawberry farms are already working to produce strawberries under glass. At present, about 75% of all strawberries in the Netherlands grow in the open, but this may not be the case for much longer. The Dutch Berries production company is just one of the firms building mega-greenhouses. Others including Beekers Berries, Diepstraten, Kwekerij Van Oers, Brookberries, Van Gennip Kwekerijen, Dutch Berries and Royal Berry are also investing in this method of cultivation, which would allow producers to harvest quality strawberries throughout the year and replace Spanish production.

There has been a marked structural change in the Dutch strawberry sector, with a shift towards fewer, large-scale producers using greenhouse technology. Between 2006 and 2017, there was an increase in volumes produced, but the number of the country’s strawberry growers fell from 830 to 450. These larger firms are better placed to make the sizeable investments required to convert to greenhouse production – the new installation of Dutch Berries cost almost €40 million.