Richel added a semi-closed greenhouse concept to their product catalog: the Optim’Air. According to Benjamin Richel, the strength of their Optim’Air concept lies in the fact that it will be fully engineered to the grower’s specific needs. “We believe that each grower, crop, climate and location demands a specific greenhouse. That is why the Optim’Air is a semi-closed concept that can be adapted to each unique situation.”
At the GreenTech in Amsterdam last week, Benjamin Richel explained that the French entrepreneurs have been following the developments in semi-closed greenhouse structures over the past few years. “We see that many growers are looking for such designs in order to optimize their energy management and disease control. However, the current offer of semi-closed systems often comes with a lot of expensive technology that not every grower needs.”
As an example, Benjamin Richel spoke about the amount of vents and tubes for air distribution. “Growers want to keep insects like whiteflies outside the greenhouse as much as possible, in order to support their biological crop protection strategies. However, in the summertime, the combination of less vents plus having insect nets installed can result in problems to create optimal airflow. At the same time, using fans at high capacity to cool down the temperature results in high electricity consumption.”
This is why Richel came up with a concept solution that combines a semi-closed greenhouse concept with an air treatment corridor and a “traditional” greenhouse’s roof vents. “From fall till spring when plants are young and fragile, the biological pest control can be integrated and secured in the greenhouse environment. In summertime when a well established integrated pest management strategy is secured and temperatures rise, plants are stronger and normal roof ventilation can be used again. As a result, no cooling system is required, less air exchange rate is needed and operational costs and investment are reduced.
This is just one example of a specific Optim’Air design of Richel, but the greenhouse builder stresses that each Optim’Air project is unique. “Each time we work on a new Optim’Air project we take into account the needs for the project. We will only install the technology that is needed for the specific purpose of the operation. This can save the growers a lot of money as they are not required to make investments in additional technology that they don’t need.”
“However”, said Richel, “the Optim’Air is also a modular system, so if the grower wants to upgrade or expand his operation with for example more air treatment installations, dehumidification or other climate controls, it is still possible.”
For the last two years, Richel has completed several Optim’Air projects and in the coming year they will complete another two in France and Switzerland. “Our engineering departments from both Richel Greenhouses and Richel Equipment integrate their experience and knowledge into these projects to offer one complete solution.”
Richel combines knowledge from all their divisions, Environment, Greenhouses and Equipment into the Optim’Air greenhouse concepts.