Oct. 29, 2010, Amsterdam – Energy optimization was the focus of Wednesday’s tour. Included on the tour were:
• A “wow-this-is-amazing” ultra high-tech potted orchid greenhouse.
• A carbon neutral office complex built by a major industry supplier that could be a cover story for Architectural Digest.
• A unique 20-million-plants per year, plant-raising operation… that’s not in a greenhouse.
If you’re committed to premium orchids, as your family has been since 1980, you need exceptional facilities. Brothers Richard and Eduard ter Laak of Ter Laak Orchids are second-generation growers and held nothing back in building a new eight-hectare greenhouse in Wateringen.
They grow four million, 12-cm Phalaenopsis plants each year.
The new greenhouse features an automated internal transport system, an external shading screen with integrated solar panels (features unique in Dutch horticulture for a project this big), three internal screens, computerized plant sorting, extensive variety trialling chambers, and a second-storey production area over the shipping area.
A new pot the brothers helped design contains 25 per cent less plastic than its predecessor.
Next was a visit to the Priva main offices to hear a presentation on sustainability by company CEO Meiny Prins. She was the 2009 Businesswoman of the Year in the Netherlands.
Last year, the company was awarded the CleanTech Star sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund in recognition for its contribution to the clean technology sector through innovation, economic potential and CO2 reduction.
The company applied its automated climate control expertise with their energy-neutral offices in De Lier. With no traditional heating or air conditioning systems, it instead features long-term underground energy storage via warm and cold wells. There is no gas consumption thanks to heat exchangers and heat pumps, and the facility is a comfortable 22ˆC year-round.
It features 6,000 square metres of glass, significantly reducing lighting requirements. Moss and sedum have been planted on the roof to cool the building in the summer and provide insulation in the winter.
Prins outlined a number of research projects, including a robotics program expected to soon market a tomato crop deleafing unit; a tomato harvesting unit is on the drawing boards.
Priva is a major player in the field of automated climate and process control in the horticultural and building intelligence markets.
The final stop was the Visser Horticultural Technology facilities in ’s-Gravendeel. The company supplies a variety of products to the greenhouse sector, including pot and tray filling machines, seeding systems, transplanting units of various capacities, vision grading units, pot handling machines, and packaging equipment.
Visser has a new co-venture – ViVi – with Vitro-Plus to market the new Vitro-Plus system to other growers. In-Vitro has a patented process to start 20-million fern plugs a year. Instead of a greenhouse, it grows the plants under artificial lighting in a large laboratory.
The system has been upgraded with LEDs from Philips Lighting, resulting in a production increase of 30 per cent and lighting requirements reduced from 16 hours to 12 hours per day.
The planting process has been fully automated by Visser, which has also added sensor technologies to constantly monitor the health of the plants.
Other benefits of this system are shorter growing times and reduced crop losses.