IPM numbers remain strong as energy takes central role

Energy saving and alternative energy sources were to the fore at an IPM show in Essen that managed to buck the trend of declining attendance at major shows.

The Humboldt University of Berlin has been among the beneficiaries of the EUR6m (£5m) ZINEG research programme, funded from emissions trading. It is developing a carbon-neutral tomato glasshouse by using excess warmth in summer to heat a tank of water used as a heat source in winter.

"We have had a lot of visits to the glasshouse," said Professor Uwe Schmidt of the university. "But it will take four to five years to work out the commercial value."

The German government has also financed the setting up of a website drawing together research on energy-efficient growing. Energieportal is managed by ZVG, the German horticulture association, which this year will also lay on trips and symposiums on the topic.

"The ministry will also help growers make technical changes, even put in new glasshouses," said ZVG project director Dr Bente Jacobsen. "It also has the goal of making them more competitive, which is not always the same thing."

She added that the funding of EUR28m earmarked for the four-year project had been cut back sharply when emissions trading permits failed to sell as well as expected.

Alternative fuel sources such as wood and biogas were becoming more common in German horticulture, she said. "There have also been improvements in glass with higher transparency. But still a lot of glasshouses can be improved."

Making its first appearance at IPM, Philips announced that it has now installed energy-efficient LED lighting systems for 27 growers in the Netherlands alone. "At the show we have had a lot of interest from international growers," said marketing director Udo van Slooten.

- The numbers at this year's show were similar to recent years, with 1,508 exhibitors from 47 countries and around 60,000 visitors. "Everywhere there were satisfied faces and even euphoria," said ZVG president Heinz Herker.

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