Delphy Improvement Centre and the greenhouse horticulture business unit of Wageningen University & Research recently organized a knowledge-sharing event focused on the challenges for greenhouse horticulture in the next 15 years.
Over the past 15 years, they have conducted research and implemented innovations together, thus contributing to making greenhouse horticulture sustainable and profitable. With this knowledge-sharing event, they stopped to think back on 15 years of research and looked ahead to the challenges of the next 15 years.
Aad van den Berg (Delphy Improvement Centre) and Sjaak Bakker (Wageningen University & Research) kicked off the afternoon. They took their audience from the time when the very first steps in their collaboration were made up until now. From the start, Delphy Improvement Centre, formerly under the flag of GreenQ, and Wageningen UR formed a cluster.
Aad van den Berg
From the beginning, they combined gray and green technology. Sjaak and Aad's presentations went from tilapia, LED, and diffuse glass trials to autonomous growing and crop protection trials. There were also a few remarkably long trials; Perfecte Chrysant (Perfect Chrysanthemum) lasted four years and Perfecte Roos (Perfect Rose) no less than 8 years. Trials take time; innovations penetrate slowly but steadily. Just think of the energy-producing greenhouse, Freshnel, at Ter Laak, and the field lab Vertical Farm. They are not idle.
This knowledge has led to many visits being made to these research centers. Aad and Sjaak estimate that together they have welcomed about 75,000 people.
Horti Science Park
The municipality of Lansingerland seems to want to take up the idea that was conceived 15 years ago; the Horti Science Park is increasingly taking shape. Aad: "We believe that such institutions are a catalyst for the region."
In her presentation, Adri Bom-Lemstra, chairperson of Glastuinbouw Nederland, stressed that innovation and research are essential to maintain the Dutch lead. She goes even further: "I want the world to know that the Netherlands is and will remain a leader."
She also talked about both crop research and crop cooperatives, and about fundamental research and applied research. "These two reinforce each other. And I agree with Sjaak and Aad; some innovations show their results years later."
Challenges abound in today's greenhouse horticulture. While the rain was pouring down on the tent during Adri's presentation, everyone was aware that water is the new gold: we must strive for water-efficient greenhouses.
Healthy crops are crucial, and plant health requires sustainable solutions. Adri: "This is a tricky matter. We see that authorizations are being withdrawn at a rapid pace, and the new crop protection products that should tackle diseases and pests cannot keep up."
The sector must, on the one hand, show itself an attractive sector to work in and, on the other hand, become aware of its responsibilities towards international workers. Greenhouse horticulture has launched the campaign 'Love your people like your crop' to draw attention to this.
A variety of workshops
After these two presentations, the workshops started. Invitees were allowed to choose and partake in two workshops from a wide range of offerings:
1. LED in greenhouse vegetables - Developments in intensity and spectrum
Switching to LED lighting often goes hand in hand with higher light intensity. A choice of spectrum must also be made. Both have their influence on the crop's assimilation balance, raising new questions. In this workshop, the latest knowledge about LED lighting in greenhouse vegetables was shared, including what to take into account when making the step to 100% LED. Kees Weerheim (WUR) and Lisanne Helmus-Schuddebeurs (Delphy Improvement Centre) led this workshop.
2. Changing temperature and moisture strategy when using LED. LED lighting has effects on the energy and moisture balance of the plant and the greenhouse. For optimal growth, this means adjustments in the climate strategy must be made. This workshop looked into what had been done differently with Chrysanthemum and other crops, as sharing experiences is important for the implementation of this type of lighting. Arie de Gelder (WUR) and René Corsten (Delphy) led this workshop.
3. LED lighting in floriculture
LED lighting is not only more energy-efficient than SON-T, but also offers additional options to guarantee the quality of floricultural crops. The use of specific wavelengths offers opportunities to influence various plant processes and thus improve the quality, and this workshop served to give a number of examples of the effect of LED lighting and the light spectrum on various ornamental plants. Arca Kromwijk (WUR) and Bas Oudshoorn (Delphy Improvement Centre) led this workshop.
4. Fossil-free cultivation
In 2040, Dutch greenhouse horticulture companies will be fossil-free. With the use of dehumidification and greenhouse cooling, heat can be recovered from the greenhouse to provide fossil-free greenhouse heating. This workshop included a discussion on the results and developments of fossil-free cultivation with various crops. Frank Kempkes (WUR) and Stijn Jochems (Delphy Improvement Centre) led this workshop.
5. What about the CO2 supply?
CO2 is a prerequisite for a fossil-free greenhouse, but where will that CO2 come from? This workshop included a discussion on the potential sources and the opportunities and bottlenecks. Dennis Medema (Glastuinbouw Nederland) led this workshop.
6. Real-time and non-destructive monitoring of crop physiology and development
In this presentation, the focus was on the use of sensors for monitoring crop physiology and development. This workshop featured examples of different trials, an overview of sensors and their possible application, and a discussion on the challenges that still lie ahead. Alex van Klink (Delphy Improvement Centre) and Jelle Geurts (WUR) led this workshop.
7. How far have we got with autonomous cultivation in greenhouse horticulture?
"Autonomous cultivation" is attracting plenty of attention, but there is also much uncertainty about what it actually is and how far we have already gone with it in greenhouse horticulture. In this workshop, WUR and Delphy gave some insight into what is already possible to achieve with data and sensors, and what the next steps are to make autonomous cultivation possible. Klaas van Egmond (Delphy) and Anja Dieleman (WUR) led this workshop.
8. CO2; can it be done better? In recent years, several studies have been conducted on the CO2 use of plants. The strategy chosen for dosing is important for both the plant and the wallet. Just think of reducing CO2 loss. Monique Bijlaard (WUR) and Arjan Vijverberg (Delphy) led this workshop.
9. New crops in the Netherlands - Papaya in the next phase, which crop will follow?
This workshop looked into the stories behind the cultivation of new crops in greenhouses, with a focus on how this was achieved with papayas. Filip van Noort (WUR) together with 1 of the papaya growers led this workshop.
10. Soft fruit: booming business?
Soft fruit is becoming increasingly popular with consumers. How can we, as growers, respond to this in the coming years? This workshop served to discuss and debate various developments in soft fruit from a research and practical perspective. Jan Janse (WUR) and Barry Dorrestijn (Delphy) led this workshop.
11. Artificial intelligence in Crop Health.
Transitioning towards automated decision support systems for crop protection in covered crops, using extensive data continuously acquired by vision technology sensors, interpreted with intelligent algorithms, such as deep learning, and embedded in a sustainable management of the greenhouse production system. Kirsten Leiss and Anne Ellings (WUR) led this workshop.