Tomato grower sees increase in production as a result of AntiReflect
Van Adrichem Kwekerijen in Steenbergen achieved a 5% increase in production last year using AntiReflect, compared to an untreated glasshouse section. “We were pleasantly surprised.”
Loek van Adrichem is one of the first growers with experience in the use of AntiReflect. This product ensures that less sunlight is reflected on the glasshouse cover. As a result, more light enters the glasshouse. And more light in the glasshouse means higher production.
The site in Steenbergen covers 15 hectares, of which 6 are illuminated. The snack tomato Sweetelle is grown in the illuminated section. The remainder of the acreage is planted with the large vine tomato Merlice, a real light-grower.
“We planted Merlice in December 2016. We then applied AntiReflect to the glasshouse cover in March 2017. This was actually a bit late, because the harvest started in March. But we were unable to do it any earlier due to the weather. The glasshouse cover was either too cold or too wet”, the grower explains.
Two sections were compared
This means that he does not have experience for a complete season. Nevertheless, the results are very appealing. “We wanted to have certainty about the effect of the product. Therefore, we went about this in a very thorough manner. One section measuring one hectare was treated with AntiReflect. The adjacent section was not treated. In each of these sections, we compared 20 rows to each other. These rows were located in the middle of each section, to rule out any effects of the façade”, he explains.
The sections could be compared properly, because he uses path registration. In addition, both sections can be controlled independently, if necessary.
AntiReflect is not visible at all from the inside. The treated and untreated covers look exactly the same from the inside. So it was exciting to see what would happen.
Van Adrichem: “At first we saw no difference at all. I walk through the entire glasshouse twice a week and in both sections the crop looked exactly the same. We did not have to change any settings and all the growing procedures were exactly the same. But gradually we started to notice something: the production under AntiReflect slowly increased. In July it was up 2%, by mid-October the production was 5% higher in the 20 rows that we measured. So we were pleasantly surprised by such a significant effect. It is worth noting that the results may be slightly distorted due to an infestation of gall mites. The difference might be smaller as a result”.
The vines are consistently pruned to five fruits. Therefore, the increased production was not observed in the number of fruit but in the fruit weight.
Loek van Adrichem
Light transmission remains the same
A number of loose panes were also treated with AntiReflect. These were then measured by the Light Lab of Wageningen University & Research. They were found to let 3.6% more light through than panes without AntiReflect. After being left outside for a year, the Light Lab performed measurements again on the same panes to check for signs of aging. These measurements revealed that the light transmission had barely decreased at all after one year.
The new season
Van Adrichem planted new crops in December. Now the young plants will receive more light from the outset under AntiReflect. The positive effect is expected to start at an earlier stage, because young plants under more light will start building a photosynthetic production system more quickly, which will produce better results in the long term.
The grower does not see any disadvantages of the new solution. “This product is not cheap, so there have to be some clear benefits. But the number of kilograms exceeds our expectations, so it is more than worth the investment. We will now wait to see how this season progresses; if this season is just as positive, then obviously we will consider expanding this to the entire non-illuminated area.”
AntiReflect was applied to this glasshouse by Contractor De 3 Koningen. This product needs to be applied very accurately, even more so than the ReduSystems coatings. This is because the effectiveness depends on the application of a perfectly even layer that is exactly the correct thickness. This can only be achieved under optimum weather conditions. Only contractors who have been certified by Mardenkro can apply AntiReflect.
How much light does my crop need?
There is an optimal amount of light for every crop. Too little means that production will be low. But too much will put pressure on the yield and quality. So custom work is always key.
Practical tests confirm higher production under AntiReflect
The first growers to use the new AntiReflect coating are seeing higher production as more light is entering their greenhouses. AntiReflect is being launched commercially this year.
Anne Elings explains why crops grow better with more light
For a good part of the year, the level of natural light is below optimal for most crops. Any additional light that then enters the greenhouse contributes to improved production and quality, says Anne Elings, Plant Physiologist at Wageningen University & Research.