During orientation research at tomato growers Gebr.Verbeek in Velden, the Netherlands (North Limburg province) it has become clear this spring that wireless sensors may well be used in optimizing the glasshouse climate. It is possible with this technology to use energy more efficiently. The research has been done by Wageningen UR Glastuinbouw together with AgriSensys and Climeco in the framework of the project Gezonde Kas.
In most glasshouse the climate is controlled by a measuring box and a climate computer. The traditional measuring box collects data about the relative humidity of the air and the temperature of each section of the glasshouse. This measuring is the establishment at a certain point and does nor show differences in climate in the glasshouse. When adjusting the temperature and the humidity the climate computer therefore applies a considerable safety margin. Often more heat is then produced than necessary.
Wageningen UR Glastuinbouw has developed a wireless sensor system, which in the meantime is available under trade name AgriSensys. The wireless sensor network consists of a number of measuring boxes and a basic station. The measuring boxes are in various spots in the glasshouse and the base station collects the information via a web-application and produces a graph. The grower in this way knows the horizontal differences in climate and where and when there is a risk of wetness in the glasshouse.
This spring a test was carried out at Gebr.Verbeek. 25 sensors were positioned in the tomato glasshouse, which is equal to 10 sensors/HA. During the period February to May measurements of the measuring box were compared to those of the sensors.
During the test it became clear that based on the values of the measuring box it very often resulted in unnecessary heating of the glasshouse. Also the grower, because of the sensor network, became more aware of the critical points in the glasshouse.
From the research it is clear that a wireless sensor network is a good instrument to improve the climate in the glasshouse and to save energy. The research will be followed in the project Gezonde Kas at the testing station in Straelen. A test in a pot plant glasshouse will follow in September
The project Gezonde Kas is an INTERREG IV A program, in which border areas work on Europe. Research companies and business in the region Greenport Venlo and agro business region Nederrijn cooperate on practical solutions for glasshouse horticultural companies. More information here.