The show's overall Innovation Award was presented at its opening to Priva for its newly unveiled Deleafing Robot for tomato growers, whose 3D vision-guided mechatronic arm removes leaves rapidly and accurately.
Priva innovation and research manager Ronald Zeelen said: "You need to remove leaves to reduce disease risk and promote truss growth, and this recognises the difference between leaves and tomatoes. Labour is 30 per cent of growers' costs, comparable to energy."
Awards jury chairman and former Wageningen University & Research president Aalt Dijkhuizen said: "Having a lot of people in the glasshouse increases the risk of transmitting disease and as this has been developed together with many producers we know it works."
The robot also won in the equipment category, in which the Triton Bioreactor from Van der Ende Group featured among the runners-up. General manager of its Moor Filtertechniek subsidiary Micha van Nieuwkerk said: "This provides an optimal habitat for a healthy microbiological population. The microflora inhibit bacteria including root diseases and build up resistance against pathogens, resulting in crops with a high resistance against diseases."
The production category winner was ISO Group's Plantsampler, which automates the gathering of DNA material from the leaves of trial seedlings, again using 3D visual guidance. "This needs to be done accurately. It's hard even for people," said Dijkhuizen. "This is not only accurate down to 0.5mm but speeds up the job."
Also in the production category was Cutilene's new RootmaXX stone wool cube. Account manager Thiark Sietzema said: "We developed this with propagators and growers. The cross-fibre structure of the material means the plant's roots go all through the block, not straight to the bottom, meaning better water and nutrient uptake, and a drier block with lower EC."
Winner in the automation category was Ridder HortiMaX Group's Go! control system for managing greenhouse climate and irrigation. Dijkhuizen said: "Its user-friendly, plug-and-play approach makes it accessible to growers worldwide, and at an affordable price."
HortiMaX managing director Joep van den Bosch added: "The controls themselves aren't new. The innovation is in the ease of use and installation for growers with minimum support. Basically they can do it themselves."
A runner-up in automation was the Paskal Growth Analyser from Israel's Paskal Technologies. Sales manager Joost van Rooij said: "The sensor measures the weight of the tomato or cucumber plant every 20 minutes then sends it wirelessly so the grower can see it on a web interface and adjust the climate accordingly to improve production or lower costs."
Dijkhuizen added: "What struck me was the large number of entrants. It shows how much is going on. It could be boring going through them all, but the quality was fantastic. Some were not quite ready. To those I say, come back again."
Registration fees for the competition amounting to EUR7,300 were donated to the charity Amref Health Africa. The show featured 415 exhibitors from 36 countries - a 35 per cent rise on its first outing two years ago, as well as 85 information sessions featuring more than 100 speakers.
Visitor numbers over the three days of the GreenTech show were up 20 per cent to just short of 10,000, with the majority now from outside the Netherlands. "This is surely taking GreenTech to the next level," said RAI Exhibitions managing director Ids Boersma.