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Vertical farming unit for research into crops in controlled environments

The Bleiswijk research location of the Greenhouse Horticulture and Flower Bulbs Business Unit of Wageningen University & Research has its own vertical farming unit. Here WUR investigates how optimal cultivation can be done in controlled areas. In addition, researchers in these cultivation areas can mimic climatic conditions in other areas so that these crops can be studied in Bleiswijk. For this, it is important that WUR knows how the crops grow in those areas.

Space in an urban environment is limited. Therefore, food production in those areas must achieve a high production per square meter. In addition, the efficient use of resources (such as water) requires a high-tech greenhouse, but this is not always financially feasible, certainly not on a small scale. In the study "Turning resources into food," WUR investigates simple cultivation systems, such as tunnels. Such systems can be applied worldwide, offer opportunities where production is less stable economically, and can be a solid alternative to open-field cultivation.

The WUR simulates such cultivation systems in the vertical farming unit. This requires that the existing harvesting models be adapted to the local conditions. To this end, WUR measured the climate (light and heat) in a Mediterranean climate last year. Next year the same will happen in a continental climate. That data is used to improve an existing tomato harvesting model: that model can be calibrated and validated with that data. This harvest model can then be connected to a greenhouse climate model.

The two-year research "Turning resources into food" takes place within the project "Food Systems in European Cities" (FoodE) (Horizon 2020 research and innovation program of the European Union, grant agreement no. 86266.


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