'Energy-efficient hydroponic cultivation of irises all year round with the HortiMaX Clima 500'

With energy prices on the rise, glasshouse operations are seeing their financial results suffer. Unfortunately, alternative energy systems using renewable sources are still in an experimental stage. Now a new project has started at Boos, a Dutch iris nursery, to test an innovative climate control system combined with a renewable energy generating unit, developed by Sixways BV.

Conventional climate systems for heating glasshouses in periods of cold weather are based on traditional methods of generating energy (i.e. using electricity and gas). In summer, most of the excess heat is discharged into the atmosphere by opening the vents. On hot summer days, however, this has only a limited effect on reducing the ambient temperature – even if the vents are fully open. In these weather conditions, the temperature rises to such a level that it not only affects production, but also increases the risk of disease.    

Climate change means that average temperatures will continue to rise. As a result, being able to cool your glasshouse, as well as heat it, is becoming an increasingly important factor in the glasshouse industry. Scientists are also predicting that the future will see greater fluctuations in temperature. In light of these changes, there is a clear need to develop an innovative climate system which can both heat and cool the various glasshouse compartments independently of one another, enabling a stable temperature to be maintained throughout the year.

Sixways B.V., a Dutch consultancy, has developed a concept which will achieve just that. In summer, excess heat is cooled using ground water of approximately 12°C and stored at a maximum temperature of 25°C in an aquifer underground. This hot water is then pumped up in winter and heated to a temperature between 30 and 40°C using a heat pump. Subsequently, the heat is distributed to the different compartments with the aid of circulation fans, floor heating or a network of pipes raised to crop height.  

Since 1989, Dutch iris grower M. Boos has been working on a cultivation method to improve the continuity and capacity utilization of his business. As a result, he now uses hydroponics to grow irises all year round, rather than just in season using soil-based culture. This, together with the ability to maintain a stable climate, has not only improved the quality of his stock, but has also reduced the need for pesticides to practically zero. Boos will soon start using the renewable energy and climate control system from Sixways. It is expected that his business’ energy consumption will drop by more than 60 percent compared to his current, conventional system.  
 

Upcoming events

2018

HortiContact
20-22 February
Gorinchem, The Netherlands

Shouguang Veg. Expo
20-22 March
Shouguang, China

Hortiflorexpo IPM
9-12 May
Beijing, China

GreenTech
12-14 June
Amsterdam RAI, The Netherlands

Cultivate '18
14-17 July
Columbus, OH, USA

Canadian Greenhouse Conference
3+4 October
Niagra Falls, Canada

Expo AgroAlimentaria
13-16 November
Irapuato Mexico