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CASTA: a computing miracle for greenhouse design

The Dutch greenhouse-construction industry is extremely successful worldwide. One of the main reasons for that success is the highly efficient design process. The vast majority of greenhouses with a glass roof and glass walls are designed with the help of CASTA/Greenhouse, a software programme developed by TNO in collaboration with companies in the sector.

The design programme has been in use since 1989. The introduction of CASTA/Greenhouse has been one of the factors facilitating the rapid increase in the scale of greenhouses in recent years. Greenhouse builders can use the programme to provide an efficient customised service when calculating the substructure of Venlo greenhouses and other greenhouse types. TNO researcher Hans 't Hart: "The programme provides information on the consequences of the various alternatives. Construction is cost-effective and the design is as light as possible without compromising structural safety. The control calculations comply with NEN 3859, the greenhouse-construction standard, and with the Construction Decree (Bouwbesluit). CASTA/Greenhouse also complies with construction standards outside the Netherlands."

Customised approach

CASTA/Greenhouse provides a customised approach, not only for greenhouse builders but also for growers, supplying them with greenhouses that are designed for their specific business needs at the right price/quality ratio. Light transmission is optimum, and safety is assured as far as possible. Because the greenhouses comply with the Dutch construction standard, growers have no problems insuring them.

Hortivation

The Dutch greenhouse-construction sector was involved in the development of CASTA/Greenhouse from the outset. The Hortivation foundation was set up for this purpose. For Dave Fennema, board member of Dalsem Horticultural Projects, CASTA is the 'jewel in the crown' in greenhouse construction: "CASTA saves us months of work, and we can tailor our services far more effectively to the needs of growers. The collaboration with TNO went smoothly. There is mutual understanding and we have confidence in each other. We're currently working on improvements including new modules and modifications for the latest developments and requirements. We make full use of fast computing systems that can handle ever-more complicated models". Hans 't Hart concludes: "We already work closely with the sector, and we always welcome new contacts with businesses that are interested in participating in Hortiation. There are also opportunities for greenhouse builders outside the Netherlands to collaborate with us."

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