Svensson's senior climate expert Hugo Plaisier predicts that within a decade, all modern tomato nurseries will have two climate screens to control the climate in their greenhouse. "Climate screens are crucial when it comes to optimizing growth, climate and in reduced gas usage."
Last summer I visited a tomato grower for a good conversation on greenhouse climate and screen usage. He told me that he uses the climate screen pretty much every day of the year. Even at the peak of summer he has his screen fully or partially shut at night to combat nocturnal radiation. Thus keeping the plants at the right temperature and ensuring that photosynthates are optimally converted into plant growth. And that was like music to my ears! (Not just because he was using a Svensson climate screen.) It reminded me of something another tomato grower had said years before: ‘Even if gas were to be made free, we’d keep using the screen. Without a climate screen, you can’t create a climate.’
What a sea of change in the way of thinking! You see, at the start of this century tomato growers were averse to energy-saving measures and to climate screens in particular. Any discussion on the utility and necessity of a screen usually attracted a response along the lines of: ‘The more gas you force into the greenhouse, the more kilos you’ll get out of it. Being more economical with gas can only be at the expense of production, so using screens for tomatoes won’t work’.
As the two opinions cited above show, we now know better: climate screens are crucial when it comes to optimizing growth climate and result in reduced gas usage as well. After all, it turns out that this is a really good combination, and not just in the case of tomatoes, for that matter.
Two screens to improve cultivation
So have we got to where we need to be? No, we haven’t. More than any other sector, greenhouse construction is one in which we realize that there’s always more to achieve. There are always more steps to be taken towards further improving cultivation. I think it’s fantastic to be able to contribute to this process in the capacity of a consultant, by joining forces with growers to reflect upon what’s needed to further optimize the climate and advise on the right screens to this end.
If I may be so bold to offer a prediction, within a decade all modern tomato nurseries will have two screens to control the climate within their greenhouses even better. Both in lit and unlit greenhouses. That’s the way it’s going: from no screen to one screen (under protest) to two or more screens. For more and better tomatoes!