BVB Substrates: phytotrons and semi-closed greenhouse for indoor farming

Nijssen provided BVB Substrates with two phytotrons and a semi-closed greenhouse in the newly constructed research facility in De Lier. The substrate supplier is reacting to the rapid rise of city farming.

In the high-tech phytotrons, substrates for multilayer cultivation are being developed. Multilayer cultivation puts different demands on substrates than cultivation in a traditional greenhouse. Weight plays a more important role, and strict hygiene measures apply because any outside influence is unwanted. The R&D department of BVB Substrates is using the new facilities for cultivation trials and weed testing. Potential problem situations are also being investigated, so that thorough cultivation advice can be provided.

Indirect cold water system
The rooms are conditioned with an energy-efficient indirect cold water system, and the semi-closed greenhouse is heated from a central heat pump installation. The phytotrons are equipped with height-adjustable multi-layered racks, equipped with watering trays and frames in which lighting is suspended. The greenhouse is equipped with ebb and flow rolling benches.

Philips Dynamic assimilation lighting
The rooms are equipped with Philips Dynamic Greenpower LED modules, assimilation lighting with different integrated colors. The light intensity can be adjusted per color (red/blue/white/far red), so the light spectrum can be entirely customized. In the research area, lighting can be dimmed per color in a range of 0-100%. Individual lighting groups can be defined in the Nijssen control module, so that the lighting can be controlled separately per layer and location. In the greenhouse, the lighting can be switched separately for each half of a rolling bench.

Integrated irrigation and humidification
Nijssen also supplied the complete water installation for irrigation and humidification. Irrigation is done based on specific recipes, and the user interface offers integrated control and visualization. The watering in the greenhouse can be regulated per rolling bench and in the phytotrons per growing layer, and is manually adjustable or can be automatically planned. The composition of the water is checked with sensors prior to watering.

Uniform air distribution
To achieve uniform air circulation and a draft-free air supply, one of the phytotrons has an air distribution wall and a suspended ceiling with a perforated suction strip. Both phytotrons are equipped with air distribution hoses and an ultrasonic humidifier. By placing it in front of the exhaust of the air coolers, uniform humidification is achieved.

Ventilation from surrounding areas

The rooms are ventilated with air that is sucked in from surrounding areas in the building, the advantage being that the air is already more or less conditioned. This ensures that extreme temperatures outdoors will have a minimal impact on the climate inside. Ventilated air from the rooms is transported directly to the outside by overpressure. The ventilation flow in all rooms can be completely adjusted via the control system.

Integrated control
The Nijssen control system operates the air conditioning and ventilation, the assimilation lighting, the humidification system, the supply of nutrient water and the roller screens in the greenhouse. All parameters are set and monitored with the help of a user-friendly visualization.

“Big step forward”
"With the new Philips LED lighting and greatly improved climate control, we are taking a big step forward," says Kees van Koppen of BVB Research. "We have better control over the air humidity and light levels, for example. The test greenhouse and phytotrons are part of BVB Research and are located in our new BVB Innovationcentre in De Lier, along with the laboratory. There we also have BVB College where we provide training courses to customers, growers, students and employees. It's a great business card for our company."

Source: Nijssen