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Technological development of greenhouses and quality of vegetable production

On 20th April 2012, in Cesena, during the conference "Innovations for Horticulture of Quality" at Ortmac, Alberto Pardossi from the University of Pisa delivered a speech titled, "Technological development of crops in greenhouses and quality of vegetable productions".

Greenhouses or protected crops include spread material (nursery), leaf and fruit strawberries, grapes, etc., cut flowers and ornamental plants in pots. These crops are protected by mini-tunnels, tunnels, shadings, multi-tunnels and glass or plastic greenhouses.

According to the technological levels, greenhouses require different investments (€/m2) and show different attitudes towards some variables, among them influence of external weather, mechanization, automation, performance and quality of productions. 

In this way low-tech greenhouses, which cost less than 30 €/m2, suffer from the external weather, while poor mechanization and absence of automation lead to variable performance and quality.

Medium-tech greenhouses require more investments (30-100 €/m2) which is partly influenced by the external weather, medium mechanization, little automation and variable performance and quality.

High-tech greenhouses, finally, whose investments are higher (more than 100€/m2) are only slightly affected by the external weather, thanks to the use of mechanization and automation they guarantee excellent quality.

Protected cultivations in the world: more than 3 million hectares. Below: Protected crops in Europe: 150,000 hectares, 66,000 of whom in Spain, 34,600 in Italy, 10,200 in Netherlands.

Thus Pardossi summed up in a short scheme the relationship between crops in greenhouses and quality of the products:
  • Hygienic-sanitary safety (UV-/+, film and pesticide defence, nitro control, etc.) = the product is not bad!
  • Sensory profile (taste, flavour etc.) = the product is good!
  • In greenhouses it is possible to practice bio-fortification, enrichment with mineral elements, which had interesting results with selenium in lettuce and tomatoes. This is another advantage of the protected crops, their nutritional values: the product is good! 
  • The last point is environmental (and social) sustainability

Greenhouse with zero consumption of fossil fuels.

Greenhouses in the future: from protected environments at zero consumption of fossil fuels to structures producing energy.

The market demand of quality products will determine an increase of costs of production and prices. (Source: Ralf de Ruijte, Royla Netherlands Embassy Madrid, 2003).

Alberto Pardossi
University of Pisa
E-mail: alberto.pardossi@agr.unipi.it

Publication date: 5/14/2012


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