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Fluence Sponsors Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge

Fluence Sponsors Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge

AUSTIN, Texas — Fluence announced its sponsorship of Wageningen University & Research’s (WUR) third Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge in the Netherlands. For the first time in the challenge’s history, WUR leveraged a broad-spectrum LED-only lighting system—specifically Fluence’s VYPR 3p solution—instead of high-pressure sodium (HPS) fixtures. WUR also implemented Fluence’s innovative lighting control solution, Wireless Flex Dimming, into the facility.

Wageningen University & Research is dedicated to researching the future of agriculture by exploring autonomous greenhouse technology, climate control, crop modeling, advanced sensors, data intelligence, computer vision, and robotics. Beginning in June 2021, WUR organized its third Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge to task different international teams with sustainably growing vegetables in a fully automated greenhouse environment.

“We expect that food production in greenhouse horticulture can be further improved by adding more artificial intelligence to the agricultural industry,” said Silke Hemming, who leads the scientific research team for greenhouse technology at WUR, in a statement. “We make connections with international partners through this unique challenge, so that we can take major steps.”

One of the challenges growers face when transitioning from HPS to LED luminaires is that a typical HPS system is limited in its dimming capabilities, unlike LED technology. By leveraging state-of-the-art, qualified Bluetooth mesh technology enabled by Technology Partner SILVAIR, Fluence’s Wireless Flex Dimming solution allows growers to have precise control of dim light levels. By connecting the VYPR top light fixtures to the climate computer through Wireless Flex Dimming, the participants were empowered to implement advanced lighting control strategies that maximized plant growth and quality.

“In any greenhouse or controlled environment, the reliability of a cultivation system is paramount,” said Theo Tekstra, Fluence’s technical director for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Wireless Flex Dimming enables growers to simplify installation and gain solid wireless control of their light levels, whether in an autonomous scientific experiment or a large-scale greenhouse. We are now implementing this technology for customers with more than 7,000 connected fixtures.”

WUR’s Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge also seeks to discover how artificial intelligence can play a role in the future of cultivation, including how to reduce energy input and cost.

“The complete cultivation process is handled by AI and algorithms developed by the teams,” Tekstra added. “One important input factor is the strong fluctuations in high energy prices. Fluence’s Wireless Flex Dimming integration with the Ridder climate computer allows the teams to modulate the lights within their lighting strategy algorithms to optimize energy costs. Fluence’s mission is to help the world grow smarter—something these incredible teams are tackling head-on. We are delighted to support WUR and this initiative with our advanced lighting solutions.”

Results from the challenge will be published in July 2022. To follow the competing teams’ progress, visit WUR’s greenhouse challenge dashboard here.

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