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Modern greenhouse horticulture in Japan

Different greenhouses in different climate zones of Japan - Wageningen University & Research carries out research with several collaboration partners in Japan. A joint research programme is carried out by National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), Japan, and Wageningen University & Research (WUR), the Netherlands. The Research is pertaining to the “Regional Strategy Program: Development of scheme improving large scale greenhouses with multi-cropping and multi-equipment in Japan” of the “Revolutionary Technology Development/Urgent Project” sponsored by the Japanese government.

The main objective of the research project is to find solutions for the challenges that rise when up-scaling and introducing new technology in different crops grown in large-scale greenhouses in Japan.

At different locations in Japan new greenhouse enterprises were established the last years. They are located in different climate zones and equipped with different technology, different crops are grown. However, challenges in the new enterprises are comparable: decreasing labour costs and energy consumption, increasing yield and product quality and predictability of yield.

Four greenhouse sites at different locations in Japan are monitored concerning their realised climate in order to optimise climate management and energy consumption. The sites are monitored concerning their realised crop yield in order to make a yield gap analysis and predict future crop performance and to optimize labour use.

Climate, crop and labour
At all four greenhouse sites weather data is continuously collected. Next to that actual greenhouse climate data (RH, T, CO2 and amount of light) and set-point values used in the facilities (including heating, ventilation, CO2 supply, dehumidification and all other available equipment).

Companies have different environmental equipment and different energy saving strategies. Examples are wood-pallet heating, heat pumps driven by own electricity generation from a waste plant or geothermal heating. Different coverings and screens are used. WUR analyses the collected data in order to improve greenhouse climate and equipment management at the sites in the future. Analysis is done on the distance, WUR and NARO greenhouse climate experts visit the sites regularly, in order to discuss results and future goals.

Next to greenhouse climate data also crop growth and yield data is collected. Small-size experiments are implemented by NARO on site in order to collect relevant data of the different crops. Crops are tomato, sweet pepper, cucumber, strawberry and some cut-flowers. WUR uses data for validation of model calculations. Crop models are used in order to identify potential yield and the difference between potential and actual yield (yield gap analysis). Models will also be used to forecasts for potential and actual yield under various conditions in Japan, WUR and NARO experts visit the sites regularly in order to discuss results and possible improvements.

Since labour costs are extremely high in Japan and labour efficiency is in general lower than in The Netherlands, experts from WUR and NARO also interact on the field of labour processes and future automation.

The project contributes to the improvement of modern greenhouse production in Japan and it enables scientific exchange of research data between both countries.

Source: Wageningen University & Research
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