Imtech and PlantLab: high-tech CSR nurseries for energy-saving and sustainable ‘footloose’ production of flowers, plants, vegetables and fruit
• Sustainable, high-tech, space-saving ‘footloose’ CSR nursery of the future
Den Bosch, Gouda - PlantLab (developer of innovative plant growing concepts) and Imtech (technical services provider in Europe) are starting up a strategic joint operation to enable the sustainable cultivation of flowers, plants, vegetables and fruit in high-tech enclosed nurseries. This will lead to the creation of innovative CSR nurseries that will allow efficient and sustainable ‘footloose’ (i.e. at any given location) production of plants. This technology is the next generation of modern horticulture, and is carried out on extremely small surfaces, allowing the efficient and cheap production of flowers, plants, vegetables and fruit for the local market in an environmentally friendly way (minimal CO2 production, none of the negative environmental effects of transportation).
The concept is based on an entirely new method for producing flowers, plants, vegetables and fruit (Tuinbouw 3.0®). In contrast to current production methods in greenhouses, external (day) light is no longer necessary. In fact, the less interaction there is with the weather outside, the better. It is also possible to grow plants in stacked tiers. The light is controlled via high-tech, environmentally friendly LED lighting. Crucial roles are also played by CO2 dosing, air treatment, heating, as well as ‘green’ IT infrastructure and environmentally friendly automatic control. PlantLab is acting the part of initiator and developer, whereas Imtech is responsible for the complete sustainable technical implementation.
Within a few years, a new type of balanced high-tech CSR nursery could be created throughout the world, where products are cultivated in completely conditioned stacked tiers without daylight. These CSR nurseries are close to the consumers and offer many advantages: a higher production level with a precisely predictable harvest time, and a manageable product that offers more than the traditional equivalent when it comes to appearance, flavour, quality and nutritional value. This sustainable and environmentally effective method of cultivation is employed on a very limited area in places where it is currently impossible due to climate conditions, water shortages or lack of space. Moreover, no pesticide are used and only up to 10% of the water required for current cultivation methods is necessary.
Three basic types
In concept studies, PlantLab and Imtech have jointly designed three basic types:
• Modular R&D unit: a high-tech facility in special containers for research into balanced cultivation in several tiers;
• Plant production unit: a concept with which flowers, plants, vegetables and fruit can be cultivated very efficiently and effectively inside a building. In this way, a building with 14 cultivation tiers covering an area of only 100 by 100 metres, is sufficient to provide a city the size of Den Bosch (140,000 inhabitants) with its daily requirement of fresh products;
• Fresh Garden Mall: a concept for CSR nurseries in inner cities, ‘local for local’, fresh for immediate consumption, and sustainable. China and Japan are already carrying out tentative experiments in this field.
Imtech is currently carrying out the engineering and realisation of the required technical infrastructure for the first two basic types. There is worldwide interest in these concepts.
Centre for Growing Concepts Opening
Gerda Verburg, outgoing Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, is today opening the Centre for Growing Concepts in Den Bosch, where the University of Applied Sciences HAS Den Bosch and PlantLab are carrying out technical cultivation research into the further development of this high-tech and energy-saving solution for the sustainable ‘footloose’ production of flowers, plants, vegetables and fruit.
Imtech N.V. is a European technical services provider in the fields of electrical engineering, ICT and mechanical engineering. With approximately 23,000 employees, Imtech achieves annual revenue of more then 4.3 billion euro. Imtech holds strong positions in the buildings, industry and infrastructure/traffic markets in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Eastern Europe, Nordic, the UK, Ireland and Spain and in the global marine market. In total Imtech serves 20,000 customers. Imtech offers added value in the form of integrated and multidisciplinary total solutions that lead to better business processes and more efficiency for customers and the customers they, in their turn, serve. Imtech also offers solutions that contribute towards a sustainable society, for example in the areas of energy, the environment, water and mobility. Imtech shares are listed on the Euronext Stock Exchange Amsterdam, where Imtech is included in the Midkap Index. Imtech shares are also included in the Dow Jones STOXX 600 index.
PlantLab develops unique mathematical prediction models that allow the exact planning and management of plant production processes, so that the time for harvesting, the harvest yield and the product quality can be strictly managed, thus ensuring the best possible link between production and market demand. After PlantLab proved and then patented the feasibility of cultivation in completely conditioned spaces without daylight in 2006, it quickly took the following steps that have led to a new vision of plant production. PlantLab’s home base is the new Centre for Growing Concepts at the University of Applied Sciences HAS in Den Bosch. This hypermodern research centre developed by PlantLab includes 8 climate cells in which plant research can be carried out under 56 different environmental factor combinations simultaneously.
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