Terugblik Nederland als Partnerland in 2014. Wirtschafsreport in gesprek met Marco Siebert, directeur Internationale betrekkingen Hannover Messe.
Exclusief interview met Marc Siemering over Hannover Messe 2016.
On the right track to the perfect city farm
The question as to how we can reliably supply the growing global population with food is one which is preoccupying researchers, politicians and entrepreneurs all around the world. One answer is city farming, whereby food is grown in urban areas. Empty factory buildings, for example, are turned into modern greenhouses, which replace sunlight with LED lighting. Dutch cooperation CCGS is even going one step further and will showcase what it calls a “Complete Controlled Growing System” (CCGS) at Hannover Messe. “We want to prove that you can produce high-quality food where it is needed”, says Initiator Peter Scheer from HAS University of Applied Sciences located in Den Bosch, the Netherlands. The overall concept is based on the successful integration of growing techniques, technology and project management.
So what is so special about this system? “One of the main advantages is that we can achieve maximum plant growth with minimum resources. The system spans several floors, so we can produce more per square metre than with conventional growing methods”, explains Scheer.
Reduced water consumption
Furthermore, the growing of vegetables, for example, is no longer dependent on the seasons. Instead, under stable climate conditions, food can be produced and harvested[T1] all year round – with consistent quality levels. Another advantage: “No plant protection products are required for crops grown in a CCGS. Water consumption is reduced as, in the closed system, the evaporated water is collected back up and reused”, says Scheer, listing more plus points.
Last but not least, a CCGS can be installed anywhere in the world where there is a water and power supply. This means that food can be produced locally and sold directly on site. This in turn means that there is no need for long, expensive and environmentally damaging shipments.
The new system is based on solid foundations which drawn on various different areas of expertise, which seamlessly complement each other. This know-how comes from three partners: the companies Holland Innovative and Light4Food and the initiators from HAS University of Applied Sciences. “This cooperation ensures we have the necessary expertise in the areas of growing, technology and project management”, says Scheer.
The partners can develop customised growing concepts on this basis. “We call this ‘right tech’, and what we mean by that is that we can develop a customised system in any country and for any required application, which takes local circumstances and conditions into consideration.” The goals are clearly defined: rapid plant growth, higher yields and better quality. “We don’t provide a fixed system, but a reliable and functioning concept”, Scheer points out.
A good example of a success story for the concept is “BrightBox” in Venlo, which is a demo city farm for research purposes developed by HAS University of Applied Sciences, Philips and Botany. It consists of a large climatic chamber in which the ideal growth conditions for specific plants are tested: the perfect combination of light, humidity, temperature, nutrients, water and substrates. The climate chamber has four high racks each with five levels in which various different concepts are tested in parallel. “All CCGS growing concepts are tested in BrightBox. We begin by carrying out the tests in small climatic chambers and then subsequently the tests are conducted on a larger scale”, Scheer explains.
Another key point is training and further training for professionals, for example the online course “Growing without Daylight” which was just recently carried out again. “We have trained participants from all over the world online.”
The idea of the city farm is not a new one per se. “However, previous systems have not been 100% controllable. We have now managed to change that though as our concept is completely controlled. This is necessary in order to ensure that we can also use the raw materials and nutrients sustainably. Our system is now ready for the world.”
The plans are equally ambitious: in the next few years, there should be at least five new demo farms. These should serve as starting points for ensuring that new city farms are set up around the globe, so that the idea grows as quickly as the plants in a CCGS…
A platform for start-ups
Around 20 innovative start-ups from the Netherlands will be exhibiting at the Start-up and Innovation Square in Hall 4 of Hannover Messe. They will be presenting their companies and showcasing their products to potential customers and investors under the auspices of high-tech experts from Holland Innovative.
Contact person: Peter Scheer
Hall 4, Niederländische Gemeinschaftstand