Highlights were plentiful at GreenTech Amsterdam. Many forms of vertical farming were presented including growing systems in vertical tubes and multilayer cultivation. As well as more innovation in lighting, propagation and sorting.
We have captured a short overview here.
Vertical farming in many forms
One pavilion at GreenTech was dedicated to vertical farming, which is a general term for different growing systems such as vertical tubes, carousels, and multilayer cultivation in greenhouses and shipping containers. The South African company Eden Green Hydroponics presented a system with vertical tubes (see photo). The plants are placed in small pockets on either side of the tube and receive water, nutrients, and CO2 through a tubing system. This model saves a lot of energy and water. The plants are illuminated by a mobile LED installation. Inventor Jacques van Buuren said there is plenty of sunlight in Africa where the system has been tested on fruiting vegetables and gerberas. The company is still looking for sponsors to set up a trial in the Netherlands.
Logiqs (Logistics Quality Systems) presented their 3D Carrier for moving plant carriers within the multilayer cultivation industry. The carrier moves in two horizontal directions and also moves vertically between the levels by means of a lift so that it reaches all areas of the “vertical farm”.
The German company Manticore uses a barrel for vertical farming wherein water and nutrients are atomised. ‘Harvesting and other activities are labour intensive, but the proceeds per m2 are high,’ inventor Marco Tidona explained.
Simple and affordable climate computer
The Hortimax Go! is a simple and affordable climate computer which regulates the most important climate factors in the greenhouse. Product Manager Joost Veenman expects the floriculture sector, in particular, to be interested in replacing their older computer systems which are no longer supported. ‘There are quite a few companies with dated greenhouses who do not want to invest in the most modern computers; this climate computer will offer a solution.’ The objective was to create a “plug and play” climate computer which is easy to use for everyone. When connected in the greenhouse, the climate computer will recognise the switches and it will rebuild the whole system from scratch. You can adjust the settings from any smartphone. With this innovation, the Ridder Hortimax Group won the GreenTech Innovation Award in the Automation Solutions category.
Made to measure LED lighting
The beauty of LED lighting is the ease of adjusting the colours. Philips presented their Philips Greenpower Dynamic, a lamp that has been designed for the multilayer cultivation industry, in which blue, white, red and far-red light can be adjusted independently. With the use of the supplied software, growers can store their lighting scheme in a schedule. ‘That way, they can adjust the colours during the day and for the duration of the cultivation process,’ Marianne Welvaarts said. ‘It will lead to optimal growth during the growth phase, with finer tailoring possible before dispatch.’ The system will be commercially available in the fourth quarter of 2016.
The Swedish manufacturer Heliospectra has a similar system with adjustable top lighting in four adjustable colours, while lamps with nine colours are already available for research purposes.
The German company Advanced UV Light (AUVL) develops LED lights with a wider spectrum. According to CEO Stefan Dressendörfer, a wider spectrum would be more natural and therefore better for the plant.
The American botanical explorer Joe Simcox made a plea for biodiversity at the opening of GreenTech. ‘There are almost half a million plant species in the world that are adapted to a wide range of circumstances. There are even cucumbers that grow in the desert,’ he explained. ‘Nevertheless, we only use a few plant species to feed the world. In the meantime, Monsanto makes us believe that we need genetically modified organisms. Why don’t we make better use of nature’s comprehensive genetic offering?’ Joe Simcox also warned against what he called “bio piracy”. ‘Substances that have been used by indigenous people for centuries are now patented by multinationals. That’s an unethical development.’
Deleafing Robot wins Innovation Award
The Deleafing Robot from Priva in De Lier, the Netherlands, has been chosen as the winner of the Innovation Award 2016 from a total of 73 entries. Ronald Zeelen of Priva said that the design firm Job Kneppers in Delft played an important role. ‘We cooperated with a great number of tomato growers during the development of the robot. To meet all their demand, you need a creative approach. Priva provides the technology, in particular, their visual technology is essential. We will build the robots together with VDL Groep in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, in order to launch them on the market.’ There was a prototype robot at GreenTech. At the end of 2016, the first three robots will go to three different tomato growers. In the next phase, the robot, who was named Kompano, will also start undertaking other cultivation activities.
From AC to DC
Direct Current (DC) has many benefits for a company when compared to Alternating Current (AC): it is safer, more efficient, you need less copper, and the lights are dimmable. DC is also easily integrated with solar energy. Companies that are eager to use DC should contact Direct Current BV in Aalsmeer, the Netherlands. Their control cabinet that, amongst other things, protects against short circuits is the crowning achievement of the system. ‘This protection is 1,000 times faster than an electronic fuse’, research manager Dico Kruining explained. ‘Thanks to this, the chance of fire in case of a short circuit will be minimised ‘