Greenhouse cultivation has expanded extensively in Europe thanks to technological advances for optimising production systems. To advance integrated control we need, firstly, to improve our knowledge of plant physiology in relation to water flows and nutrients, and associate these flows with internal plant processes and the dynamics of nutrients and assimilates. This data would enable the creation of tools and models to represent the processes of water and mineral feeding in a simplified manner. Control systems need this information to make decision-making automatic and simultaneous with the needs of the crop. This type of soilless system management is innovative, and it is essential to optimise the use of water and fertilisers, improve the competitiveness of the horticulture sector, enable the recycling of nutrient solutions, and avoid discharges that pollute environment.
The project aims to quickly advance our understanding of nitrate uptake and its relation with water absorption and climate in order to optimise the functioning of the agro-ecosystem. In particular, the project aims to implement advanced strategies of predictive control to regulate climate, transpiration, irrigation, and nutrient solutions in an integrated manner for soilless greenhouses. The problem is particularly difficult and appears to be multivariable, nonlinear, subject to constraints and disturbances, and its dynamics remain unmodelled. It is, therefore, the ideal testing bench for developing control strategies.
The systems under development include industrial network digital technology, and the use of wireless technology and remote online management via radio.