Gezonde Kas/ Healthy Greenhouse – an innovative crop protection system for greenhouses

Through a combination of highly-developed monitoring techniques for indoor cultivation, the Healthy Greenhouse project, developed in the German-Dutch border region, is able to identify the onset of plant diseases at an early stage – even before symptoms occur.

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" The building blocks of the Healthy Greenhouse system consist of equipment for DNA and sensor techniques, automated image processing, software tools, biological control strategies and precision spraying techniques. Together, the system enables the detection of diseases before symptoms are visible to the naked eye. "

Carolien Zijlstra, Project Manager

With the use of camera monitoring, sensors and diagnostic devices, the Healthy Greenhouse project can automatically localise, diagnose and treat common diseases effecting tomatoes and potted plants. The earlier and more targeted treatment that the system provides results in a 25 % to 70 % reduction in the use of potentially harmful chemicals and pesticides. This reduction, in turn, is expected to equate to a 50 % decrease in the total costs of chemical plant protection products used in the German-Dutch border region by 2020.

A greener greenhouse

The German-Dutch border is home to some of the world’s most modern greenhouses, with under-glass cultivation being a staple industry for decades. In recent years, however, new quality requirements, emission control regulations and ever-advancing technology has made it increasingly difficult for the region’s many gardeners to manage diseases and pests. What they needed was a system capable of recognising the presence of diseases and pests, which would help them make decisions on what measures to take.

The project involved 10 research institutes and 22 companies from across the German-Dutch cross-border region. Prior to the project, many of these institutes and companies were developing their own processes and systems for greenhouse horticultural crops. For example, the EU-funded PORTCHECK, FLOW AID and others created innovative software programmes for crop monitoring. The Healthy Greenhouse project system combines these individual processes for prevention, monitoring, interpretation, prognosis, control and protection into a single, integrated plant cultivation system. The result is an innovative system for the sustainable management of diseases and pests in modern, under-glass cultivation environments.

The importance of early detection

The Healthy Greenhouse system monitors on both the macro and micro levels, which enables it to detect diseases before symptoms are visible to the naked eye. Thanks to this early detection, biological or other alternative measures can be effectively applied to prevent a disease at an early stage, which is not always the case when a disease becomes more advanced. Even if chemical crop protection products do need to be applied, a reduction of their use is ensured by the system’s optimal precision spraying techniques.

A horticultural boom

A new company consortia emerging from this project has proved pivotal in strengthening the competitiveness of the horticultural clusters of the border region. In addition to the creation of numerous new products, 105 jobs were created and over 5 500 SMEs have benefited.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Gezonde Kas” is EUR 10 163 600, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 3 966 037 through the “Netherlands-Germany” Cross-border Cooperation Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

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