"By accurately monitoring the cultivation, climate and other conditions, we can substantiate the 'green' feeling and strengthen cultivation strategies. This way of working is the future", explains Ary de Jong, cultivation manager at HortiTech.
HortiTech is located in the World Horti Center (WHC), the heart of horticultural developments in the Netherlands. They offer training in the field of technology, cultivation methods and business operations. In addition to theoretical knowledge transfer, a lot of attention is paid to applying and mastering the knowledge in practice. They also train greenhouse horticulture professionals from (international) customers to optimize the organization of the customer. Ary: "A grower or farmer, all of them are entrepreneurs who are looking for the right conditions for their crop."
Use of sensors
For new strategies or techniques, the HortiTech team regularly uses the greenhouse research center of the World Horti Center. Pim van Adrichem, Director HortiTech: "In 2019, we started working with Sendot's oxygen sensor to find out how tomato and pepper plants deal with oxygen in the water. As a result, we have obtained a better picture of the oxygen levels."
In order to extend the growing season, shortening of the day is reduced by lighting. The objective is to produce all year round, while maintaining production and quality. "At the moment there is a study on the effect of white LED lighting on tomatoes and cucumber cultivation and for this we use the photosynthesis sensor. Sendot is the market leader in horti sensors like oxygen and photosynthesis."
Research LED lighting
Son-T lamps are traditionally used for lighting greenhouses. Due to the higher efficiency in light output and the longer service life, (intermediate) lighting with LED can also be of interest to horticulture.
"Tomato cultivation was planted in September and is planned to remain until 1 June. The tomato was fully balanced on November 15, at that time the lighting went on 100%, 18 hours a day. This starts the lighting season, due to the growth of the plants and less natural light. We started with 100% LED lighting and the maximum duration of 18 hours per day", says Ary.
With the help of the photosynthesis sensor, the efficiency, growth and breathing of the plant, is measured by the means of sugar production. The days are longer from February, the sun will be stronger and then comes the moment of dimming of the lighting during the day.
“In a large greenhouse, the radiation of the sun, the outside temperature but also the electricity price often determines when the lamps go out or 50% of the light goes out immediately. This is sometimes too early, sometimes too late, and we are investigating whether this can be done more accurately. It's a test case for growers to show what to look at."
Pim: "You want to have a constant light level on the plant. By measuring efficiency, you know how much additional lighting is needed. With stronger sunlight, you can scale back the lighting to the right extent. This way you can keep production at a level all year round and monitor the quality."
Light is production, but when efficiency subsides, the light no longer makes sense. Data from the sensors gives you insight. "Many growers produce their own energy and smarter lighting allows them to save, even return it to the grid. That flexibility is also being sought."
The Sendot sensors contribute to an optimal lighting strategy and ensure more production, better quality, greater efficiency and improved durability, pim notes.
Pim: "This test allows us to indicate in terms of content what the lamps can mean for the growers. How it works in technology, but also in practice. The photosynthesis sensor makes it easy for the grower to act correctly. For us it is possible to watch from a distance and to guide the grower. ”
Several growers have already shown interest and want to know more about the lamps and sensors. The HortiTech experts guide the growers. Pim: “We can offer good support by using photos, videos and online conversations. By using sensors, we are even better able to interpret the local situation from a distance. ”
Understanding cultivation strategy
HortiTech is also investigating the influence of LED lighting in cucumber cultivation. Ary: “They were already planted in October, we had to make a lot of adjustments and as a result have already learned a lot. With the data from the sensors, we were able to substantiate that much longer exposure was possible; the plant still liked it. I always see a lot with my 'green eyes' and have experienced that waiting for a while is more profitable. A grower's feeling is often correct, but the change is not always the right one. "
The sensors are linked to the 30Mhz data platform. Pim: “With the combination of 30Mhz and Sendot sensors, we ensure that we always have insight into the current situation. We can download charts and reports directly. Sendot has full access to the dashboard and all sensor data during this research. ” Ary continues: “In this way we learn from each other how we interpret the data and how we can best represent this for the users. A real win-win situation. ”
The new cultivation: through data from sensors
Ary: “Sensors can no longer be ignored, this is the future. Nurseries are getting bigger, green fingers are becoming scarcer and physical contact is limited due to the risk of disease. In horticulture we strive for an optimal temperature, moisture and light line and sensors bring this wisdom. ” “From adapting to feeling alone, to adapting to feeling with substantiation. Act not only on the condition of the plant, but also on its efficiency. This takes some getting used to for growers who are used to reacting directly to what they see. This is the new way of growing, Pim concludes