The construction of this unique project has started: not only the first semi-closed glass lettuce greenhouse in Egypt, but anywhere on the African continent. Just outside Cairo, Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects will deliver a turn-key project in which both climate and plant density are fully optimised for the entire cultivation process. The total size of the greenhouse is approximately 2.5 hectares, in which high-quality herbs and lettuce will be grown. Which techniques and solutions are used? And what does this yield for the customer?
Excellent in horticultural technology
In 2018 Van der Hoeven began to work closely with a major regional investor along with an experienced local team of growers and engineers, to build the continent’s first top-tech horticultural project. The Van der Hoeven team set to work on the complex issue: adapting the European standard designs to fit local circumstances, to build a project with the most advanced greenhouse technology.
Smart solutions for a complex issue
Lettuce cultivation in a desert climate is not an easy task. It is a challenge to keep the indoor climate cold and humid for the lettuce to thrive, while the outside environment is hot and arid. Van der Hoeven designed a fully electric greenhouse that combines the benefits of both a semi-closed and closed greenhouse without using any fossil fuels. During the hottest seasons, the greenhouses uses chillers to run completely closed, while during the milder winter time the greenhouse opens up. Where a semi-closed system saves energy, closing the greenhouse reduces the CO2 demand by 75%. Additionally, in a closed system, all water evaporated by the plants is reused within the greenhouse, reducing the water demand to almost zero. A combination of such systems allows for an indoor climate that is optimal throughout the entire year, even in the extreme Egyptian summers.
Plant density is optimised by using a mobile gutter system. The grower can achieve increased cultivation efficiency per square meter compared to working with a regular cultivation system. Another advantage of this system is that human actions are not required during the cultivation process until the moment of harvesting: a smart solution that is efficient and effective.
That extra mile
Over 1.5 million kg of high-quality lettuce and herbs will be grown every year. Growing them in our semi-closed greenhouse makes the crop extra sustainable and free from pesticides. The end product is intended for both the Egyptian market and export market. In order to respond proactively to the needs of the consumer, we continuously go that extra mile. We seek to connect with the customer by conducting joint market research into the popularity of various lettuce and herb varieties. This is to be able to optimally match demand with production and thus maintain a good market position with little waste.
The construction of this project will start in July 2020 and completion is planned for June 2021.
Leuven, Belgium & Den Hoorn, the Netherlands - 15 June 2020 - Arvesta, the full-service partner of farmers and horticulturists, based in Belgium, continues its international growth and takes a minority shareholding in Van der Hoeven Horticultural projects, a Dutch company that provides state-of-the-art solutions in the area of horticultural technology and globally one of the fastest growing players in this sector.
Van der Hoeven, based in Den Hoorn (the Netherlands) develops, implements and maintains top-tech solutions for horticulture. This includes turnkey projects with cutting-edge technology developed in house that is both innovative and sustainable. Thanks to a strong team with its own engineering and R&D, Van der Hoeven is a leading global player in the implementation of large horticultural projects. Van der Hoeven focuses on complete solutions for the production of safe healthy crops, with a maximum yield and minimum use of water, nutrients, energy and labour.
The first illuminated semi-closed greenhouse in Australia was delivered last summer. It is an 8-hectare ModulAIR project that we built in Two Wells, 50 km north of Adelaide. Perfection Two Wells has been involved in tomato cultivation for many years, and we asked Michael Simonetta, CEO of Perfection Fresh Group, about his experiences during the building process. Michael has been instrumental in taking his family-owned business from a small operation based at Sydney Markets to a sizeable grower, marketer and processor of fresh fruit and vegetables.
1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us something about your carreer?
I studied and practised accountancy for six years before joining Perfection Fresh as part of the sales team in 1984; I became CEO in 1991. I am currently serving as a Director on the Board of Produce Marketing Association.
"Van der Hoeven excels in Artificial Intelligence during the competition"
Never before has a team including a company that designs and delivers turnkey greenhouse projects, won the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge. During this competition, artificial intelligence (AI) takes on human operated horticulture by growing cherry tomatoes in a fully automated greenhouse. Through the development of algorithms and with the use of data, tomatoes have successfully been grown without human interference. It was announced this morning that the jury had selected Team Automatoes as the overall winner of this year’s competition by a unanimous decision.
Leonard Baart de la Faille is R&D engineer at Van der Hoeven and has been involved in this challenge from the very beginning as Automatoes’ team captain. Other team members originate from KeyGene, Hoogendoorn Growth Management and TU Delft. Van der Hoeven strongly believes in the application of data and algorithms for crop management: “We have taken a huge step in the right direction and with the knowledge we have obtained, we can optimize our crop consultancy through the use of data,” says Leonard.
"Higher production, with a lower risk of diseases." Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects B.V. and CannabiDol are going to cooperate. Bas Duijvestijn and John Dol announced this last week.
As Sales Manager at Van der Hoeven, Bas Duijvestijn has seen the demand for cannabis projects increase for some time. This strong demand is often accompanied by some uncertainty about what such a project should look like. There is much uncertainty about the correct way of growing, and there are few producers who grow cannabis in the same way. “Cannabis is currently one of the fastest-growing industries in the world and we are seeing market prices dropping,” says Bas. “This requires more efficient cultivation solutions, so five years down the line enough money can still be earned. Through the collaboration with John Dol, Van der Hoeven can lay down a complete package for entrepreneurs who want to grow cannabis optimally and sustainably. We can assist customers from the drawing board and the feasibility study up to and including the cultivation advice after the turnkey construction has been completed.”