Computer-aided design is being used to improve the passive microclimatic control of automated greenhouses in Spain
The active climate control commonly used in greenhouses in northern Europe is not appropriate to Mediterranean conditions. Greenhouse technology in Spain is now being enhanced through computer-aided design to help Spanish farmers to keep an edge in an increasingly competitive market. A design tool named DAMOCIA has been developed which can be used by agronomic technicians for generating complete greenhouse development projects, including plans and budgets. This has already been used to produce a commercially exploitable greenhouse incorporating new design features. The development has also increased understanding of greenhouse processes.
DAMOCIA is part of the PACE (Plan de Acción CIM para España) action, aimed at improving awareness of automation technologies in Spain and encouraging their development by the Spanish IT industry. To date, PACE has funded 26 R&D industrial projects in Spain for developing marketable advanced computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) products.
The Spanish Province of Almeria, with favourable weather conditions and low-cost greenhouse technology, contains the largest grouping (over 20,000 ha) of greenhouses in the world; this type of farming provides the main source of income for the province. Increasing external competition is forcing technological advances, to retain a competitive edge. The technologies generally applied in the more temperate climate of northern Europe are not suited to the Mediterranean however, so local techniques are needed. The application of IT solutions to the design of greenhouses brings a number of advantages. It allows the designer to optimise the passive microclimate control, limiting the need for active mechanisms. National and EU regulations can be systematically complied with. The use of standard parts and production methods will help to reduce costs.
The principal result of the DAMOCIA project has been the development of computer tools for the validation and exploitation of experimental data to help technicians design greenhouses in maximum technical detail. In conjunction with these is the development of an automatic generator of reports and budgets. This systematic and integrated approach replaces traditional design methods, which tended to be based on an ad hoc empiricism. In addition to the software developments, the project has produced spin-offs in terms of an increased knowledge of technical aspects of greenhouse operation and design.
The tools developed by DAMOCIA have been used to evaluate existing greenhouse designs, and advise growers on the optimal choice for their crop type. The tangible result is the commissioning of the INAMED greenhouse, which offers better microclimate control than existing designs, with a minimal need for energy-intensive active control mechanisms.
tel +34-50-291-981 -- fax: +34-50-290-092José R. Diaz Álvarez Grupo de Investigación, Sistemas de producción en plasticultura e informática aplicada a las ciencias agrarias y medioambientales Universidad de Almería E-04120 Almería Spain
tel +34-50-295-423 -- fax +34-50-215-423
e-mail (email removed)
Research Area Integration in Manufacturing
Project PACE (DAMOCIA)
Keywords agriculture; planning software;
|Almerimatik, SA ES|
|Centro para el Desarollo Tecnológico Indutrial (CDTI) ES|
|Fundación para la Investigacion Agraria en Provincia Almeria FIAPA ES|
|Novedades Agricolas, SA ES|
|Universidad de Almeria, Dpto Lenguages y Computación ES|
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