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Precision Growing delivers sustainability

Andrew Lee, Technical Services Manager at Grodan explains the company’s philosophy on Precision Growing and gives examples of how this is enabling greenhouse growers to produce crops more sustainably.

Most people will be familiar with Precision Agriculture, a farm management concept with the goal of optimising returns on inputs whilst preserving our planet’s natural resources. A well-known protagonist of this concept is John Deere, a manufacturer of tractors and other farm equipment, which incorporates GPS and sensor technology on its machinery, allowing farmers to optimise machinery usage, irrigation and fertiliser application to fields.

Precision Growing uses exactly the same philosophy only in this case production takes place inside a greenhouse. Modern commercial greenhouses are large, complex facilities. Sensors and computers are used to monitor and adjust the greenhouse climate and irrigation systems where crop production has moved from soil to soilless ‘hydroponic’ cultivation. In this way greenhouse growers can optimise the growth of crops, fine tuning growing temperatures and fertigation strategies in accordance with the prevailing weather conditions and crop growth stage.

Hydroponic greenhouse vegetable production is already a highly efficient method of food production, for example it uses significantly less water than field based systems. Understanding whether further intensification of the sector could make it more sustainable than it is today requires a clear definition of sustainability.

The classic definition of sustainable development, first described at the United Nations ‘Earth Summit’ in Rio de Janiero in 1992 is: ‘development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. It is now generally accepted that sustainable development is a balance between economic growth, environmental protection and social equality.

Read more at Food Science and Technology

Publication date: 1/3/2017



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