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Research on low-energy tomato cultivation with an expected savings on heat-input up to 40%

Grodan and Signify, the world leader in lighting, will continue their partnership and collaborate on a research trial at Botany, the Netherlands, to further refine tomato cultivation strategy and continue to make advancements in sustainable agriculture. The trial started September 2023 and will explore principles of low energy growing under fully dimmable Philips LED lights. The focus will be on plant transpiration and nutrient uptake in a 260 m2 department fitted with active air dehumidification. This year's strategy is built on the knowledge gained from last year's successful tomato trial by Signify. By modeling the expected crop development and performance, both Grodan and Signify expect to reduce up to 40% heat input by dimming the lights based on crop needs, energy prices, and outside light conditions.

"Collaborating with the right partner can take research to new heights, and we at Signify are excited to collaborate in this journey with Grodan. After conducting successful trials over the lighting season 2022, in which we focused on light scheduling and -spectra, we realized more needed to be done to define how an LED-winter crop could be grown 5 years from now. This trial will serve as a showcase for the Benelux market." said Erik Stappers, Plant Specialist in Vegetables & Fruit at Signify. "The combination of 2 irrigation treatments and the application of active dehumidification will give lots of information on how plants perform and can be steered in these conditions. We know that this way is not common practice yet, but we see a clear need for more proof points and knowledge from our customers on how to reduce the heat input in LED crops. Our goal is to save 40% on heat input compared to current practice."

Grodan and Signify will work with other suppliers in the industry (BASF Vegetable Seeds, Ridder, Normec Groen Agro-Control, and Wireless Value) to organise knowledge transfer events and create content during the cultivation period, sharing our joint knowledge with growers and other stakeholders. The tomato variety chosen for the trial in 2023 is the TOBRFV-resistant cherry-on-the-vine cv Vitalion from BASF Vegetable Seeds. Dimmable Philips GreenPower LED toplighting compact will be controlled by Ridder Climate computer Nutrient, and uptake analysis will be undertaken by Normec Groen Agro Control. Sensors from Wireless value will be used to understand and determine the impact on plant growth. Finally, Grodan slabs and GroSens sensors were installed to collect data and optimize the irrigation strategy.

"Grodan understands that low energy growing is not a trend but is now the norm, and new growing solutions are required to ensure we continue to produce high yields of high-quality fruit," said Andrew Lee, Knowledge Manager at Grodan. "We have lower pipe temperatures, less energy input, and with the LED lights, 40% less radiant heat. All this adds up to lower transpiration levels in the crop, especially in the winter months. We must adjust root zone management strategies and monitor in more detail when. Not just irrigation start and stop times and the electrical conductivity of the irrigation water but also the balance of the different nutrient elements. We are confident these new trials will not only highlight the importance of root zone management in low energy growing but will also lead to new ways to improve cultivation practices, which ultimately improve our customers' bottom line to increase efficiency and profitability."

"At Botany BV, we understand the importance of ground-breaking research. We are excited to host trials that support innovative ways of thinking, such as those being showcased by Grodan and Signify. The findings of these trials will be backed by solid data sets from our facility, which should provide an additional piece of mind to growers, giving them confidence in high yields with lower energy inputs," contributes Maarten Vliex, Managing director of Botany.

For more information:

Daniele Damoiseaux, Global Marcom Manager Horticulture
[email protected]

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