Smart greenhouse production practices to manage and mitigate the impact of climate change in protected cultivation

N. Gruda, M. Bisbis, N. Katsoulas, C. Kittas
Horticulture is among the sectors that contribute to climate change but is also among those that are affected by climate change. The use of fossil energy emits CO2, e.g. by heating greenhouses, and nitrous oxides through the application of nitrogen fertilizers. This will backfire with unfavorable temperature changes expressed in global warming and increased occurrence of extreme weather events. As a consequence, higher temperatures and heat periods could have dramatic effects on product quality in terms of marketable yield, e.g. fruit size and physiological disorders, such as blossom-end rot in fruiting greenhouse vegetables. Protected cultivation that includes mini- and walk tunnels, plastic-, glass-, and screenhouses could be an adaptation tool to climate changes due to the modification of microclimate conditions within the cultivation area. However, clean technologies in terms of energy consumption, cladding manufacturing as well as cultivation practices are required. Generally, we are speaking for climate-smart agriculture, but what does it mean for protected cultivation? Here we present some smart solutions that can mitigate climate change by reducing emissions during the whole production chain of greenhouse vegetables as well as provide protection against adverse weather conditions caused by climate change. The smart systems used in the greenhouse could be divided into systems that are aiming to control the energy, chemicals and water inputs. Concerning the energy inputs, several decision support systems have been recently developed to aid in a smart greenhouse climate control. When these systems are combined with the recently developed greenhouse climate control equipment (energy, shading and insect-proof screens, novel covering materials, microclimate and crop sensors) and concepts such as the closed or semi-closed greenhouses lead to lower energy needs and gas emissions and lower impact of the outside to greenhouse climate. For water and nutrients inputs in greenhouses, the use of soilless cultivations, soil moisture and substrate water content sensors and relevant technologies may lead to high reductions of inputs to and effluents from the greenhouse. Several models and decision support systems have been developed that could be effective for optimizing water and fertilizer management. Although zero emissions are within reach for water and nutrients in high tech greenhouses, this is not yet the case in low-tech greenhouses that are dominant in South-Eastern and Eastern European countries, Central Asia, but also in the Mediterranean region.
Gruda, N., Bisbis, M., Katsoulas, N. and Kittas, C. (2021). Smart greenhouse production practices to manage and mitigate the impact of climate change in protected cultivation. Acta Hortic. 1320, 189-196
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1320.24
Central Asia, climate change, climate-smart agriculture, East-Europe, energy, greenhouse cooling Mediterranean area, plastic cover, South-Eastern Europe, vegetables, vulnerability

Acta Horticulturae