PROTECTED CULTIVATION IN EUROPE
During the last decades, the horticultural production in Europe has gradually moved from the northern countries towards the Mediterranean basin. Two well-differentiated agrosystems can be distinguished as predominant in each area. The northern agrosystems (the most paradigmatic example is The Netherlands), sophisticated and oriented towards high yields and highly dependent on energy and expensive technology, and the southern agrosystems (the south-east of Spain is the best example), based on low investments, low yields and low dependency on energy. The main trends in the northern agrosystems are to develop innovations that reduce costs (mainly by saving energy) and increasing production, through improved optical and thermic properties of the cover material (diffusive and antireflective glass, NIR filters, etc.) and improved climate and crop management (semi-closed greenhouses, robotics, de-humidification strategies, etc.). The trend in the southern agrosystem is to improve yield with moderate investments: improve the greenhouse structures (enhancing the light transmission in winter, optimizing the natural ventilation systems, collecting condensation, increasing tightness, etc.), using better covering materials (anti-pest plastic films, more diffusive films, etc.) and improving equipment (combination of passive techniques like double covers with cheap heating systems, or biomass heating, implementation of CO2 enrichment systems, fog or mist systems, etc.). Another trend is to move summer production to cooler areas using simple screenhouse structures to complement the year-round supply of vegetables. Diversification of crops would also be desirable, because until now diversification has mostly been limited to different presentations of the same products. Marketing is dominated by a market driven approach, with consumers demanding high quality and environmentally safe products, forcing the growers to set up integral quality management systems and in the case of Mediterranean countries, as stated before, to find the balance between investing in new technology and maintaining the benefits, having to choose between different available technological packages.
Baeza, E.J., Stanghellini, C. and Castilla, N. (2013). PROTECTED CULTIVATION IN EUROPE. Acta Hortic. 987, 11-27
agrosystem, screens, semi-closed greenhouse, cooling, heating, marketing, environment, LCA