Innovator Spotlight:
Tomerel

Melsele, Belgium

How Tomerel runs an energy-smart greenhouse without sacrificing tomato production and quality.

Founded in 1969 as a family-owned strawberry farm near Antwerp, Belgium, Tomerel continues its success under Els and Eric de Ryck’s son, Jelle, who serves as the current CEO and co-owner. Tomerel specializes in tomatoes and grows cherry tomatoes in its lit greenhouse. Jelle de Ryck replaced 50% of his old HPS system with Fluence’s advanced VYPR 3p LEDs and successfully matched light intensity while reducing energy usage by half. (he doubled the light level, he used the same energy – actually 5% less) With a focus on quality and taste, Tomerel leveraged Fluence’s support and research to extend the tomatoes’ night time hours (i.e. shorter days) with additional benefits that include improved sugar translocation. Furthermore, in close coordination with Fluence’s technical team, Tomerel installed a customized dual R9B hybrid set up to accommodate for both plant efficacy and worker visibility.

Project Overview

Cultivator name:Tomerel
Location:Melsele, Belgium
Crop:Cherry tomato on the vine (Juanita)
Fluence fixture:
  • VYPR 3p
  • Light intensity 250 μmols:
  • Spectra: R9B (+HPS) R9B -produces 2x more photons than HPS
Facility type:Glasshouse
Regional DLI:2.9 μmols/m2/day (December – outside greenhouse)
Results:
  • Increased light level by 40% with a reduced energy input of 5% by retrofitting 50% of HPS installation
  • 25% more energy sold back to grid and 5% gas consumption saved
  • Increased efficacy from old HPS at 1.8 μmol/w; to Fluence LEDs of up to 3.6 μmols/w
  • Increase of stems/m2 (3,8 -> 4,2) with higher light intensity, [plus a stronger crop]
  • Improved translocation of sugars. Higher light intensity made it possible maintain DLI and extend the dark period (night) at the same time resulting in 5% more yield with 5% less natural light.

What Our Partners Say

“If other growers come to me [to] ask what is my experience with Fluence, I can always say that I am happy. My choice was that I need service from beginning to end, and Fluence was that service.”

CEO Jelle de Ryck

How to Get the Most Production Without Sacrificing Food Quality & Taste

Pre-implementation challenges:

  • HPS lighting was inflexible and did not meet the desired goals of the operation
  • Needed to optimize plant growth for taste, quality, and production
  • Wanted to reduce energy costs from HPS and HVAC while retaining high intensities

Goals:

  • With exploding energy prices, Tomerel wanted to reduce energy costs by eliminating inefficient HPS lights, reducing HVAC usage, and increasing flexibility on the grid
  • The low winter DLI in the Antwerp region required an improved lighting strategy in order to supplement tomatoes during the darker months for continued peak production and fruit weight retention
  • Aimed to stabilize crop quality and consistency during the winter months when prices reflect the highest demand
  • Because fruit weight dropped from 12g to 10g with HPS in winter, Tomerel targeted a 12g winter fruit weight using LEDs.

Massive Energy Savings While Improving Quality
& Stability

Tomerel is proving what farms can achieve with advanced technologies and best practices. Fluence LEDs produce 2 times more photons, driving photosynthesis, compared to HPS lights. Depending on a host of environmental factors, each 1% increase in light intensity translates to a 1% increase in production with an eventual point of diminishing returns; this research partly explains Tomerel’s average stem increase from 3.8 to 4.2/m2. Furthermore, Tomerel established a flexible energy strategy that uses light when energy prices are low and sells energy back to the grid when prices are high. Optimizations such as these provide Tomerel with major competitive advantages throughout the year but especially in winter.

“It is fascinating to see growers like Tomerel make innovative, smart cultivation decisions regarding energy usage. The Tomerel team is saving energy wherever possible and also optimizing their facility in such a way to enable them to sell energy back to the grid. And all that without sacrificing plant quality. Fluence is delighted to support Tomerel in running a future-proof glasshouse.”


Timo Bongartz, general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Fluence

5% less energy input and 40% light increase (180 to 250 umols)

Improved quality and production throughout winter months when DLI is low, the fruit weight remained

Increased stem count and better translocation of sugars during the night (5% more yield with 5% less natural light, he gave the same amount of light in less hours)

25% more energy sold back to grid and 5% gas consumption saved

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