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Systems integration for international greenhouse horticulture

The export market for Dutch glasshouses is growing fast. Greenhouse realisation companies are responding to the globally increasing demand for high-quality, efficient and sustainable food production. But Dutch greenhouse designs need to be modified for other climates. TNO is working with businesses to develop the System Integration and Optimisation Model (SIOM), a decision-making support model that helps in finding the optimum design.

Greenhouse realisation requires substantial investment, says TNO researcher Leonard Baart de la Faille: "Millions of euros are involved. Greenhouse builders therefore look for configurations of the greenhouse, shell and installations that will maximise yield and minimise costs for the grower. Much knowledge about the Dutch situation exists, but that knowledge can't be applied directly in other climates, which means that Dutch designers sometimes supply greenhouse concepts that are less than optimum. In addition, development takes too long, the risks are unnecessarily high, and costs could be lower. The time it takes to incorporate innovations into designs could also be improved."

Maintaining an edge

Over the past twenty years, submodels have been developed that make commercial greenhouses more efficient and more productive in different climate conditions. However, they remained as separate concepts and it was not clear whether they could be combined. Apart from this, increasing amounts of data are becoming available from ICT systems in greenhouses. Baart de la Faille: "If we combine TNO's knowledge with the submodels and the data from practice, we can accelerate innovation and limit failure costs. This will enable Dutch greenhouse builders to maintain their competitive edge in the international market."

Decision-making support

Together with businesses in the sector, TNO is therefore developing SIOM. This calculation model is a user-friendly decision-making support system that links all relevant submodels to form a single architecture. SIOM can be used to optimise technical system designs for horticulture greenhouses and takes account of the conditions in which they have to function, such as climate, growing conditions and the availability of raw materials. During the design process, market players and their clients can use SIOM to help them decide on the most suitable technical systems. Baart de la Faille: "And they're welcome to collaborate with us on further improvements to the model. That will enable them to keep up with the latest developments they'll be able to implement the model quickly in their operating processes."

Egon Janssen MSc

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Egon Janssen MSc

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