High-tech greenhouse research facility for Australian horticulture

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Supported by Wageningen UR Greenhouse horticulture, a new high-tech greenhouse research facility will be built on the campus of University of Western Sydney, 50 km West of Sydney, Australia. Greenhouse horticultural industry is fast developing in Australia. Several new large vegetable production sites have started their operation during the last years, some of them with Dutch technology. Commercial producers want to be facilitated with scientific knowledge and research conducted comparable modern facilities under Australian climatic conditions. The new high-tech greenhouse research facility is expected to fill that gap.

Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture has an equivalent type of research facility in The Netherlands. They are cooperation partner in the Australian project. Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture will help UWS to design the new greenhouse facility by using their greenhouse design models and experience.

Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture will also collaborate on research in the field of horticultural production (plant sciences: climate and crop physiology interaction, climate and pest & disease interaction, water use efficiency and salinity effects; greenhouse climate and crop modelling; economics).

The new research centre brings together academics in different fields and commercial parties. An industry advisory committee with different commercial companies will be closely connected to the project to ensure transfer of newly created knowledge directly into practice.

The unique features of the new research greenhouse facility will include:

  • High level of environmental control (temperature, humidity, CO2, and light), in separate plant growth chambers, facilitating research into the separate and interacting effects of these factors on crop growth.
  • Different greenhouse covering materials facilitating research into effects of light quantity and quality on plant growth and energy balance.
  • Possibility to operate the greenhouse under completely ‘closed’ conditions, facilitating research into effects of high humidity and CO2 on plant growth, water and energy use. Operating greenhouses under 'closed' conditions creates potential benefits (CO2 enrichment, reduced water loss, etc.) and potential disadvantages such as high temperatures and excessive humidity. It allows research related to climate change.
  • High level of water and nutrient control of individual growth chambers.
  • Monitoring crop production and find good growing conditions under Australian climate.
  • Monitoring of energy and water use in all aspects of greenhouse operation.

The project is a joint initiative between the University of Western Sydney (UWS) and Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) in close cooperation with Wageningen UR.

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