What will the future bring for greenhouse horticulture? Of course, nobody can exactly predict the future, but careful monitoring and analysis can help you to recognise inevitable developments. Challenges we are certain to face. What awaits us? We see two main themes: the technical opportunities of big data (artificial intelligence) and the need for sustainability. These two major developments are directly linked and will result in drastic changes in greenhouse horticulture. At KUBO we are working hard every day to integrate new technologies to increase efficiency and make growing easier. In our own test greenhouse, we compare all the standard and ‘normal’ processes using tests and experimental conditions, growing techniques and non-standard processes. This enables us to improve hardware, develop the right software and optimise results. And to anticipate what awaits us.
BIG DATA, BIG OPPORTUNITIES
This is the start of the era of big data and artificial intelligence. And it will help you optimise your growing processes, your hardware and techniques. Artificial intelligence is about using computers to imitate human actions and thinking. Programs that learn from their experiences and adapt to new input. In greenhouse horticulture this could include the automatic collection and control of all data that influence the entire growing process. Or using big data to make benchmarking easier so that organisations, growing processes, hardware, performance, employment and climate conditions can be researched and compared. Artificial intelligence will enable fully autonomous growing, in which everything – climate, process and management – is controlled. We are preparing for this with our sister company, PYLOT (see page 18).
SUSTAINABILITY FOR TOMORROW
Of course, we also need to address sustainability. Our planet is crying out for this. It is expected and demanded of us. In time fossil fuels will need to be replaced. Not only by wind and solar power, but also by hydrogen, geothermal energy and the next generation of nuclear power. The gas-free greenhouse is on its way and we’re committed to taking the lead in this. Greenhouses are also increasingly being used as an energy source to heat residential areas. And residual heat, for instance from data centres, is being used to heat greenhouses. Geothermics and aquathermics are developments that are already in full flow. The capture of excess CO2 will become an issue: in order to grow, plants actually need CO2, which they convert into oxygen. To prevent excess CO2 emissions, greenhouses need to be semi closed. Sustainability is therefore about new technological solutions for the most diverse and challenging climates. This includes such things as daylight-free greenhouses or hybrid forms of daylight-free and standard greenhouses, to enable fully-conditioned growing and to block out extreme climate conditions using insulation. As far as technology is concerned we are certainly ready for this. KUBO is focusing on making growing easier and on sustainability. More output and less input, fewer food miles and a smaller ecological footprint.