After a long run-up, pot lily and pot chrysanthemum producer Van Schie started using two different LED installations in 2022 and 2023. “Finding out how to integrate grow light, climate controls, and energy management in a smarter way is a continuous learning curve for us. The climate computer plays a key role. The controls in Priva Connext are therefore frequently updated and extended,” says co-owner Marcel van der Voort.
With sixteen 500-watt lamps, special filters and lenses that ensure that only the very weak infrared light reaches the camera sensor, the ideal configuration has been found.
As Mechatronix gears up to launch its North American operations in January, its participation in the Canadian Greenhouse Conference represents a small yet significant step towards entering this market. According to Koen Vangorp, the company's CEO, they anticipate achieving DLC certification for their lamps by November. "This certification is set to open doors in North America, where the demand for fully flexible lighting solutions is growing, as it empowers growers to grow at optimum efficiency and at the lowest operational cost, even in the face of rising energy expenses."
Colruyt collaborates in new growing solution: "We are convinced of the potential of vertical farming"
At first glance, it looks like an ordinary vertical farm, which is what Koen Vangorp of MechaTronix and Kim Vancauwenberghe of Colruyt Group Smart Technics stand for. Strawberry plants, purple light, watering, and ventilation, meanwhile, all very ordinary. Yet there is more to it. The new CoolGrow CV VF was developed specifically with an eye on less energy consumption and more production. "We are convinced of the potential of vertical farming, but we also see that operational costs and installations need some changes to be sustainable," says Kim. "That's been achieved with the CoolGrow VF."
The Dutch greenhouse chrysanthemum area is estimated to be somewhere between 500ha and 600ha. Five of these belong to Rubens. Located near the Dutch town of Heerhugowaard, an hour north of Amsterdam, the family run business has grown chrysanthemums for over 50 years.
Familie Leeuwis kiest voor meer licht en minder energiekosten ‘Prijspieken elektra opvangen met dimfunctie lampen’
De chrysantentelers Leeuwis wilden eigenlijk hybride belichting aanleggen op hun volledige bedrijf, maar door de energiecrisis werd de helft van de kas full LED en bleef de andere helft leeg. Een half jaar na dato zijn de telers meer dan tevreden met hun keuze “De overstap is vlekkeloos verlopen en met de huidige prijzen houden we meer over.”
After months of uncertainty, Western European growers are finally moving forward with their decision to install LED lighting, according to Koen Vangrop of Mechatronix. "Due to the uncertainty in the energy market and subsidies, the commercial season started late," he said. "However, we are now seeing many growers opting for the installation of LED lamps, both in vegetables and flowers. In contrast, the North American market is booming like never before. They are choosing optimal flexibility in terms of spectrum and intensity, allowing them to easily convert their greenhouses for different crops."
"Thanks to full LED and controllable far-red the quality of our chrysanthemums excels"
In both phalaenopsis and chrysanthemums, Dutch growers CJ Orchids and CornelisJan Flowers recently switched completely to full LED. A third garden with campanula will follow soon. The fixtures are produced by MechaTronix, both greenhouses are equipped with full LED and separately controllable far-red. In addition, the units are dimmable.
In order to be able to produce clean starting material for the cultivation of bulbs, we’re looking at how we can produce flower bulbs, which are traditionally grown outdoors, in greenhouses or growing chambers. That way we can keep viral and bacterial diseases at bay in indoor cultivation.
Many growers are facing high energy prices. It can be difficult to cope with that, and while some had some technology in place that helped them save on the electricity bill, others had to make the painful decision of halting winter production. There are some growers, however, who tried to find a quick solution. While this can be quite tough to do right off the bat, it's surely not impossible.
Gertjan comes off as someone who isn't afraid to bet on technology and to take on investment if the trade-off is worth it. "I was interested in LED lights for a very long time," he says. "When I started my own greenhouse, I looked into getting an LED light system in the facility. Yet, the cost barrier back then was just too high and just didn't make sense." As time passed, however, LED technology kept improving, and with that, the cost barrier started going down and down.
Strawberry grower has greenhouse ready in time for winter crop under LEDs "Cultivating an expensive crop like this; do it right or not at all"
With all that's going on at the moment, these are already very trying times for growers. However, growers who are in the middle of building a new greenhouse as well, are going through an even more intensive time. Jan van Genderen of Royal Berry is one of those growers. Before the energy crisis hit, he decided to build new greenhouses, and he went through with it. In early September he proudly showed us the results.
With 20 hectares, the strawberry greenhouse of Dutch Berries was already the largest in the Netherlands when it opened in 2018, and 2 years later, the company expanded by another 4 hectares. Meanwhile, the nursery is equipped with 14 hectares of LED lighting in order to supply strawberries all year round.
Recently, an LED lighting installation was put into operation at Van Dingenen nursery in Merksplas (B) in a greenhouse for the cultivation of strawberries. The engineering of the lighting project with Mecha-Tronix fixtures and the electrical installation was carried out by Bosman Van Zaal.
Multiple years of research at Proefcentrum Hoogstraten have provided insight into the optimal color composition of LED lighting in winter cultivation. A spectrum with 5% far-red, 5% blue, 5-10% green and the rest red seems to be a safe approach, with possible variations.