Main research question
This project on multilayer ornamental cultivation focuses on the development of smart techniques and machines. The year-round vertical cultivation of plants in multiple layers, under fully controlled conditions offers several advantages: a constant, high quality ornamental plant product, perfectly timed for market demand, with limited impact on the environment and a more manageable energy demand. The cultivation know-how for growing plants in closed environments under LED lighting has increased significantly in recent years. But there is a lack of adequate remote systems to follow up the crops in multilayers (crop planning) and to monitor them (pests and diseases). Further, not enough data are available on energy efficiency/energy consumption, homogeneity of climate in the multilayer system (including dehumidification), environmental impact, .... The aim of this project is to fill these knowledge gaps.
The conversion of greenhouse cultivation to closed multilayer cultivation requires the necessary (cultivation) technical optimizations, since everything must be minutely controlled. The most important needs are: (1) automatic monitoring of crop development, (2) remote online scouting tool of pests and diseases between the cultivation layers and (3) calculation models to work out technical aspects of the multilayer cultivation system on desk. At the system level, (4) conceptual thinking about how a multilayer cropping system should be structured at the farm level.
The lack of effective management systems make large-scale investments in vertical cultivation at a commercial level in ornamental plant cultivation still too risky. We expect that the new knowledge from this project will immediately support the target group companies towards a transition to multilayer cultivation and a more sustainable, energy-efficient ornamental plant cultivation. In addition, this project contributes to further automation and digitalization for the benefit of the entire horticultural sector.