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Bioeconomic production of fresh greenhouse vegetables in Norway - BIOFRESH

Alternative title: Bioøkonomisk og bærekraftig produksjon av ferske veksthusgrønnsaker i Norge

Awarded: NOK 34.0 mill.

Bioeconomy is creating value based on biological resources. Greenhouse production provides the best conditions to maximize photosynthesis, and thus crop and product quality, as well as to minimize resource use per unit of product. It is also a prerequisite to supply the market with fresh, healthy, Norwegian vegetables all year round. However, greenhouse production is very capital-, knowledge- and resource-intensive. In Norway, it requires natural gas for heating and CO2 supply to the plants, which results in relatively high CO2 emissions. To be able to develop sustainable greenhouse production systems, it is necessary to come up with solutions that can reduce the CO2 footprint. In recent years, there have been several technological innovations on the market that can contribute to this. But these are often expensive and not always adapted to Norwegian conditions. For Norwegian producers to be able to invest in climate-friendly solutions, these must be profitable. New knowledge is needed to support restructuring in Norwegian greenhouse production. The main goal of the project is to increase knowledge about sustainable production systems in greenhouses based on renewable energy sources. The project will help to improve food security and access to high-quality Norwegian vegetables, intensify production, increase profitability, and reduce climate impact. In the project, effects of light, temperature, humidity, and CO2 concentration on production and quality were quantified. We invested in modern technical aids for monitoring plant growth (photosynthesis rate, water uptake and evaporation) and controlling the greenhouse climate, which was used and tested in a newly built experimental greenhouse at NIBIO Særheim. We also invested in LED (Light Emitting Diodes) lamps, which are more energy efficient than the traditional HPS (High Pressure Sodium) lamps. Results showed that LED lamps were effective for plant growth, but that adapted climate control and plant treatment was required to achieve optimal photosynthesis. Further studies showed that LED light between plant rows led to an increase in photosynthesis in the lower leaves of the plant population, which affected root pressure and tomato fruit size. It was shown that placing lamps in the top of greenhouses was more efficient for production than placing lamps between plants. Tomato quality, both sugar and acid content, both of which affect taste, was positively affected by LED and HPS light. Today's production method of greenhouse vegetables gives 30-40% emissions of nutrients. To reduce use of resources, it is possible to adapt irrigation techniques and recycle fertilizer water, but this is related to high risk and costs. In the project, a system was developed with biofilters for recycling of organic nutrients, residual material from biogas production, in tomato production. Results showed that the system was, after an establishment period with adapted bacterial cultures, able to convert organic nutrients from bio-residue to plant-available nutrients. Tomato yield and quality were compared with traditional production. It was investigated how the addition of plant growth promoting bacteria could make the system more sustainable and profitable. Salad bars are becoming increasingly popular. It was shown that Norwegians ate on average of 262 grams of fresh vegetables for lunch in canteens. Results showed that consumption of fresh Norwegian greenhouse vegetables could be increased by focusing on color and the addition of meat and other proteins. Customers were not tempted by the cheap import tomatoes that were often used. A blind test was carried out where Norwegian and imported tomatoes were offered to customers in five different canteens. The results showed that 84% of 574 canteen visitors preferred Norwegian tomatoes due to better taste. In the project, a bio-economic model was adapted and verified which, in the case of various investments in greenhouse gas reduction measures, can calculate the expected climate in greenhouses on an hourly basis and thus the expected crop and resource use in various nurseries. Investments in climate control measures relevant in Norway, such as the use of additional lighting, electric heat pump, dehumidification, and energy curtains, were included. The results showed that none of these investments were profitable in traditional seasonal tomato production. On the other hand, all investments lead to a positive net financial result when used in year-round production systems, previously developed at NIBIO Særheim, at the same time as the use of resources and greenhouse gas emissions could be sharply reduced. The transition to year-round production with the use of light proves therefore to be the most economical and sustainable solution for further developing greenhouse production in Norway. The results of the project are disseminated through lectures, publications, and the website:

Prosjektet har bidratt til å: - Øke kunnskap om teknologiske bærekraftige produksjonssystemer i veksthus basert på fornybare energikilder. - Utdanne to Post-doc, fire PhD, 14 MSc og 6 BSc. To har blitt ansatt som ny forsker i NIBIO. - Gjøre kompetansemiljøet i Norge på FoU innen veksthusproduksjon i kontrollert klima med bruk av lys verdensledende. - Gjennomføre tverrfaglig samarbeid samt involvering av brukere. - Dokumentere muligheter for utvikling av en klimavennlig og lønnsom veksthusproduksjon i Norge. - Dokumentere muligheter for økt norsk veksthusproduksjon med minst 50%. - Utvikle et system for å kunne dyrke veksthusgrønnsaker i Norge helt uten bruk av fossile brennstoffer. - Utvikle en bio-økonomisk modell til bruk for produsenter og myndigheter som kan estimere effekten av ulike investeringer eller støttetiltak. - Endre den generelle oppfatning i Norge i 2015 om at tomater er 'klimabomber og bedre kan importeres fra Spania'. - Starte opp flere nye prosjekt.

The project 'Bioeconomic production of fresh greenhouse vegetables in Norway (BioFresh)' will bring together scientific knowledge on plant physiology, climate and construction technology, sensor technology and microbiology with the goal to produce fresh, healthy high quality vegetables using natural Norwegian resources. The ultimate goal is to produce these fresh vegetables year-round without the use of fossil energy, chemical plant protection, and without emission of CO2, fertilizer or other waste fractions. To achieve this, greenhouse plant production techniques must be changed and adapted due to dramatic changes in the climate in Norwegian greenhouses. Photosynthetic activity, transpiration and the uptake of water and nutrients must be balanced by developing new protocols for temperature, light, humidity and CO2 regulation, irrigation techniques and cultural measures. Recirculation of drainage water, while incorporating liquid organic waste fractions, will require new knowledge on how to support favourable microbial communities in the root environment. In the project, producers and consumers will cooperate in order to achieve the highest possible fraction of high quality vegetables, thus reducing losses. Innovation will only occur if new technological developments will give rise to economic and/or environmental value. In order to quantify these values, a recent developed modelling approach will be adapted and validated for Norwegian conditions. Specialized consultants are engaged to support implementation in practice. Three PhD/Post-doc students will be guided by and experienced team of national and international researchers.

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