Better light on offer for protected crops

Horti Fair's Innovation Award dominated by products to provide more efficient light transmission.

More efficient light transmission in glasshouses was a theme of many product introductions at last week's Horti Fair. This included the winner and runners-up in the Innovation Award, as designers seek ways to maximise the benefit of light to protected crops.

Dutch supplier Mardenkro took the trophy for the second time for ReduFuse, a liquid treatment to glass that creates even, diffuse lighting over summer and can then be removed later in the year when light levels drop.

Mardenkro representative Wim van Wingerden said: "Diffuse light penetrates the crop better, increasing quality and yield."

He added that it has been successfully tested this season on protected lettuce. Jury chairman Geert van Oosterhout said: "ReduFuse requires only a small investment that is quickly recouped." It will be available in the UK from Fargro from next season.

Also among the finalists were Boal Systemen with its Lumenex double-glazed panels, which offer higher light transmission, and Klimrek with its anti-condensation treatment unit.

Klimrek director Sjaak van Dijk said: "Condensation blocks light, especially in winter, but it also loses energy from the glasshouse because it has a higher surface area."

Van der Waay launched Safety-Car, a more affordable manual version of its glasshouse roof-mounted cleaning unit. It can also be used for regular maintenance.

Owner Joost van der Waay said: "A lot of contractors take this sort of equipment around the glasshouses of different Dutch growers, who are concentrated in one area. That's not so easy to do in other countries."

Bright idea Generating electricity

Spanish company Ulma also entered an alternative means of using surplus summer sunlight at Horti Fair.

Its Eclipse system uses a slatted array of Fresnel lenses mounted on the glasshouse roof to focus sunlight onto PV cells to generate electricity.

Ulma technical manager Agustin Gomez said: "Most Spanish growers grow under plastic, so we are looking for markets elsewhere."

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