The Coming Greenhouse Revolution

Over the next five years, the value of the ‘smart’ greenhouse market globally is forecast to reach USD 1.2 billion as growers turn to advances in technology for better and faster crop yields; where crops will be grown in urban environments without human intervention. This is the conclusion of a report published by the world’s largest market research store (, whose clients include some of the world’s largest businesses. The report not only provides revenue forecasts, but also sheds light on drivers, restraints, opportunities, market trends, and the technologies expected to revolutionise the smart greenhouse domain. It also profiles various companies active in smart greenhouse markets, providing detailed market ranking analysis, mergers and acquisitions, collaborations, partnerships, new product developments, and the key growth strategies of each player.

This report is the focus of our feature article, Getting smarter, which highlights technological developments in greenhouse designs, renewable energy systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, LED grow lights, communication technologies, and automatic control systems, among other developments. Our article on innovative greenhouse coatings to control temperature and light is another example of advances in technology to grow better and faster crop yields.

The drivers of the coming greenhouse revolution are wide and varied, from crop protection and better water management, to geography and urban population pressures. These developments apply to hydroponic and non-hydroponic production systems worldwide. By way of example, the NZ kiwifruit industry has been going through considerable trauma since the discovery of Psa-V (Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae), a bacterial vine disease discovered on a Bay of Plenty orchard in 2010. The disease is now found in most kiwifruit producing regions of NZ, resulting in significant economic loss for many growers. At the time of publishing this issue, another Psa outbreak has been reported in the Whangarei region on the North Island. A major causative factor of Psa is water on kiwifruit leaves, providing conditions favourable for bacterial growth, reproduction and spread.

“ I guess high tunnels are the answer,” say Drs Mike Nichols and Bruce Christie, who urge a rethink on production methods in our article on the kiwifruit industry in this issue.

The potential of the coming revolution using advanced greenhouse technology is also highlighted in our article on commercial algae production in a ‘closed’ algae growing system to supply nutraceutical and food supplement markets. Globally, nutraceuticals are gaining prominence and becoming a part of the average consumer’s daily diet. The key reasons for this have been the increased incidence of lifestyle diseases the world over, increase in life expectancy and inadequate nutrition due to the current lifestyle choices people make today.

Today, protected cropping technologies are being considered across a broad range of horticulture crops to achieve better and faster yields. For example, in a recent issue, PH&G reported on the cherry orchard industry, which requires major changes in our thinking on how best to grow the crop in Australia and NZ in the future due to high management costs, fruit splitting caused by rain, and crop losses caused by birds. Protected cropping is one solution, by moving potted trees under cover once they have flowered outside in spring. Similarly, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry and blackberry growers are moving towards protected cropping technologies to improve quality and yields of these crops. Ω

October 2015 / Issue 160