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Test Center Blue Lab

Blue Lab

Greenhouse builder KUBO has opened its own test center in 's-Gravenzande: Blue Lab. In two Ultra-Clima greenhouses with a total of 1,600 square meters of cultivation area, the greenhouse builder from Monster will test new concepts under practical conditions, both in terms of technology and software. The first test is programmed to further investigate the possibilities of autonomous cultivation.

KUBO has become a major player worldwide in innovative greenhouse concepts for sustainable cultivation, with the Ultra-Clima greenhouse as its most important concept. Earlier this year, the development department was further expanded and housed in a separate company.

The new KUBO Innovations has also been given its own location, at the same business park. With this, KUBO wants to give an extra impulse to innovation in the field of greenhouses and software.

Testing inpractice
KUBO Innovations will also be the user of the Blue Lab, the test center located in 's-Gravenzande. 'If you have thought of something, you also want to be able to test it in practice. It is not always possible to do that under real conditions at a grower's premises. That means that we are sitting at the controls in that company, and that can't be the intention,' explains director Wouter Kuiper the choice for a private location. The test center must also provide space for the further development of the Ultra-Clima greenhouse.

Start with autonomous growing
A pilot with autonomous growing, without human intervention in the greenhouse, is currently underway. For this, KUBO is working with suppliers of horticultural computers who have already developed software for this purpose. The first cooperation is with Hoogendoorn, which has launched the Plant Empowerment program.

Wouter Kuiper: "Autonomous growing is much more than just the programming. It is a completely different way of growing. It's not like you put the software in the computer and everything works immediately. We will need a few years before it is developed through and we know how it works.'

The trial should also provide input for Smart Growing, the KUBO service to support growers worldwide. Pylot, the data platform for aggregating, analyzing and providing insight into cultivation data and greenhouse performance information, is also part of the trial.

High expectations
In one greenhouse tomatoes are grown autonomously, in the other traditionally. Sensors in both greenhouses generate as much data as possible. KUBO has high expectations of autonomous growing, says Wouter Kuiper. 'This is a way to grow more industrially with less risk, which is what many investors in (non-)horticultural countries are looking for. We want to get answers to what else is possible compared to cultivation by humans. The results don't even have to be in terms of more growth. It can also be more efficiency, so that one grower can manage many more greenhouses. We see internationally that cultivation expertise is not always available. We have also set the goal of making cultivation easier. Blue Lab is going to make a very big contribution to that.'

'Also interesting for the Netherlands'
Next to the two Ultra-Clima test greenhouses is a conventional 5,000-meter Venlo greenhouse with tomatoes, which will serve as a comparison. Autonomous growing does not always have to be combined with the Ultra-Clima greenhouse. The trial should also provide new insights for the Venlo greenhouse. 'Autonomous growing can also be interesting for the Dutch horticultural sector, both vegetable and ornamental. We already have a very high level of cultivation here, but we are still always looking for how it can be even better.'

Blue Lab test center

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