Giacomelli et al - Innovation in greenhouse engineering

Gene Giacomelli1*, Nicolas Castilla2, Eldert van Henten3 ,4, David Mears5 e Sadanori Sase6
1 Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, University of Arizona, Arizona (USA)
2 CIFA-IFAPA, Camino de Purchil S/N, 18004 Granada (Spagna)
3 Farm Technology Group, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 17, 6700 AA Wageningen (Paesi Bassi)
4 Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture, P.O. Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen (Paesi Bassi)
5 Bioresource Engineering, Rutgers University, New Jersey (USA)
6 Controlled Environment Agriculture Team, National Institute for Rural Engineering, Ibaraki (Giappone)

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Key words: multi-disciplinary design; sustainable design; strategic planning; operational planning; controlled environment plant production systems; protected cultivation.

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Abstract

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Innovations in greenhouse engineering are technical developments which help evolve the state-of-the-art in CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture). They occur in response to the operational demands on the system, and to strategic changes in expectations of the production system. Influential operational factors include availability of labour, cost for energy, logistics of transport, etc. Influential strategic factors result from broader, regional issues such as environmental impact, product safety and consistency, and consumer demand. These are industry-wide concerns that have the effect of changing the production system in the long term. Global issues are becoming more influential on greenhouse production sustainability, and include less tangible issues such as social acceptance, political stability, quality of life benefits, and environmental stewardship. These offer much more complex challenges and are generally beyond the realm of engineering. However global issues do affect greenhouse engineering innovation. The most effective innovations in greenhouse engineering design, operations and management, will incorporate input from partnerships with the academic, private and public sectors of society. Furthermore, successful applications include, at least to some degree a multi-disciplinary approach of the sciences, engineering and economics, while for ultimate success and sustainability, societal and political support must also be attained. For this overview of innovation in greenhouse engineering a list of influential factors, or “driving forces” affecting the development, application, evolution and acceptance of greenhouse systems have been described. The factors are similar for all greenhouse systems around the world, as they include the plant biology of the crop, the physical components of the structure and production system hardware, the management and logistics of labour and materials, and the mechanism of marketing the crop. Each greenhouse system, wherever located, must resolve similar problems for its specific application. The magnitude of the factors and their relative local importance are different for the specific sites. The design response will be introduced and related to the factors, as examples of innovation.

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