Fluence, a global leader in energy-efficient LED lighting solutions for commercial cannabis and food production, announced its sponsorship of Wageningen University & Research's (WUR) third Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge in the Netherlands. For the first time in the competition's history, WUR used a broad-spectrum, LED-only lighting system - namely Fluence's "VYPR 3p" solution - instead of High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights. WUR also installed Fluence's innovative lighting control solution, Wireless Flex Dimming, in the facility.
Wageningen University & Research is dedicated to exploring the future of agriculture and is involved in autonomous greenhouse technology, climate control, crop modeling, advanced sensors, data intelligence, image processing, and robotics. Starting in June 2021, WUR will organize the third Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge, which will task various international teams with growing vegetables sustainably in a fully automated greenhouse.
"We anticipate that food production in greenhouse horticulture can be further optimized as artificial intelligence increases in the industry," said Silke Hemming, who leads WUR's greenhouse technology science research team, in a statement. "Through this unique challenge, we're creating relationships with international partners, so we can make significant progress."
Connecting the VYPR ceiling lights
One of the challenges growers face when converting from HPS to LED fixtures is that a typical HPS system is limited in its dimming capabilities, unlike LED technology. Utilizing state-of-the-art, qualified Bluetooth mesh technology from technology partner SILVAIR, Fluence's "Wireless Flex Dimming" solution provides growers with precise control of dimming levels. By connecting VYPR ceiling lights to the climate computer via Wireless Flex Dimming, participants were able to implement advanced lighting control strategies that maximized plant growth and quality.
"In any greenhouse or controlled environment, the reliability of a growing system is paramount," said Theo Tekstra, Fluence's technical director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. "Wireless Flex Dimming enables growers to simplify installation and achieve reliable wireless control of lighting levels, whether in an autonomous science experiment or a large-scale greenhouse. We are currently implementing this technology for customers with more than 7,000 connected devices."
WUR's Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge also aims to explore how artificial intelligence can play a role in the future of growing, including how to reduce energy use and costs.
Advanced lighting solutions
"The entire cultivation process is driven by AI and algorithms developed by the teams," Tekstra added. "The wide fluctuations in high energy prices are a key input. The integration of Fluence's wireless flex dimming with the Ridder climate computer enables teams to modulate lighting within their lighting strategy algorithms to optimize energy costs. Fluence's mission is to help the world grow smarter - something these great teams are tackling head-on. We're excited to support WUR and this initiative with our advanced lighting solutions."
Fluence continues to prove how safe, intelligent lighting solutions based on the latest technological innovations can add value to the global horticulture industry. The Wireless Flex Dimming Receiver has been PSA Certified™ Level 1 by Riscure (an independent measurement of safety best practices led by Arm). PSA Certified is recognized by the DesignLights Consortium as an approved cybersecurity standard for networked lighting control systems.
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