Expansion of experimental French greenhouses

The CTIFL (Interprofessional Technical Centre for Fruit and Vegetables) in Carquefou (Loire-Atlantique) has expanded their experimental station by 3,000m2 of 7m high greenhouses dedicated to tomato and cucumber growing. The new equipment costed €2.2 million, of which €625,000 is from the Regional Council of the Pays de la Loire.

These greenhouses are ultra-modern. They contain a research programme whose aim is to reduce energy consumption and improve yield and quality of tomatoes. Outside air above the greenhouse is drawn in, transited by humidified filters, then is propelled by air vents into the hanging plants. The structure remains stable except for small openings that evacuate the overpressure.

Fine-tuning the settings by computer allow to grow tomatoes in the best temperature conditions (25°), humidity, carbonic gas, and use 25% reduced energy. ''With everything that is happening, it is as if we went from a cast iron radiator to air-conditioning in the greenhouses'' jubilates Eric Brajeul. The computer also takes into account information from radiation sensors for thermic and shade screens. The days of white paint over greenhouses is over, technology has brought out intelligent sun-shades.

New irrigation techniques will also be tested. ''We will incorporate into the water bacterias or mushrooms that will fight against other batteries and mushrooms that are vectors of root diseases in tomatoes and cucumbers'' adds Eric Brajeul.

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