Model the climate and the crops: bring your production to the top

Imagine steering the roses to bloom just before mother's day. Or designing the ideal greenhouse for growing tomatoes anywhere in the universe. This is to some degree already possible by using crop growth and climate models. Crop and climate models are a tool for agricultural research, with which countless scenarios can be analysed with a click of a button. Such quick analyses save time and ease the process of designing a cultivation system.

Within the Business Unit Greenhouse Horticulture at Wageningen University & Research we have developed a model that links the climate to the growth and development of crops in a greenhouse. A taste of the climate model KASPRO can be found in the educational tool Kassim, publicly available online.

The combined model links the greenhouse climate and the regulation there-of (CO2, light, humidity, screens and heating) to the growth of different high-value crops, such as tomato and cucumber. This complex integrated system enables us to 'virtually' analyse multiple (complex) effects on crop development and production: greenhouse construction and cover materials, lighting systems, climate management, crop density and fertigation. The next steps will be toward a description of the effects of extreme climate conditions, pests and diseases, LEDs and cover materials on development and growth.

Adaptive greenhouse design
Another important application is the so-called adaptive greenhouse design. Contrary to popular belief, High-Tec greenhouses are not the ideal immediate solution for every corner of the world. There are many factors to consider, such as the local climate, desired crops, the availability and quality of soil and water, local economy, labour and legislation. Designing a greenhouse is a complex decision, where even the choice of a cover is a story on its own (called Kaskieswijzer). But every choice made will reflect on the production of your cultivation system, and that can be analysed with the Intkam+KASPRO model.

Source: Wageningen University & Research

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