Research in the Vegetable Systems Modelling Section

The different fields of research of the Vegetable Systems Modeling section are described in the following selection boxes. As joint research tools simulation models are used by most projects. Depending on the research problems addressed these can be functional structural plant models (3-D models), or models to describe growth and developmental processes (e.g. harvest prediction models).

 

 

VIRTUAL PLANT CANOPIES

Are plant densities and canopy structures nowadays used in greenhouse production optimal for plant growth? Does it make sense to plant narrow in the row, but have wide row distances just for making it easier to train and harvest in the canopy? How do plants react on modified light conditions, e.g. by change of structure? We try to find answers for these questions by using 3D based models for morphogenesis, development and growth of plants.

DEVELOPMENT AND ECOLOGY PHYSIOLOGY

The aim of horticulture production is to control growth and development of the crop to ensure that the product is ready to be sold at a given time and amount and in the desired quality. To reach these goals, various production measures are applied. Focus of thematic is to quantify the effects of these measures on the crop. Projects are carried out e.g. on water and nutrient use efficiency, artificial lighting in the greenhouse, or on the influence of temperatures on flower induction of crop plants. Due to important interactions mostly multifactorial approaches are mainly used.

PRODUCTION ECOLOGY

In this thematic field we analyse effects of agronomic techniques, e.g. soil tillage, fertilization, irrigation and weed control measures on plant growth and development. Also, the use of plastic or net cover materials, peat free substances or special types of production like forcing or hydroponics are investigated. Depending on subject this is done for integrated or organic production systems. Preferable the analyses are done by using multifactorial field experiments.

GENOMIC MODELLING

Using molecular biological methods the knowledge about the genetic constitution of our cultivated plants is growing very fast. But what can be derived from this knowledge for plant production? The aim of this field of activities is a prediction of growth habits of varieties in different environmental conditions on the basis of genotypic data. Derived models can help to evaluate single plant characteristics in the context of the genetic background and in regard to the interaction with environmental factors. This knowledge can be used for the definition of breeding targets as well as for the choice of varieties. Phenotypical data are obtained by pot and field experiments .

FORECAST AND DECISION SUPPORT

Every day farm managers have to come to decisions which often have far-reaching consequences for the economic success of their enterprise. Decision support models can be useful tools in this process. This starts with the right selection of the cultivar for particular product specifications in a given production environment which can be optimised using models. Farmers are demanding models helping to calculate the duration of crop development to improve harvest and marketing activities. Models are more and more necessary to quantify the effects of climate factors on plant growth and to allow deriving energy saving strategies for greenhouse production.

VEGETABLE QUALITY

The consumer demand for high outer and inner quality of vegetables is very high. To meet these standards, suitable technological measures have to be applied starting during production, continued after harvest and on the way to the consumer. During production, factors like cultivar, fertilisation, canopy architecture, irrigation, radiation and temperature conditions play an important role. After harvest, determinants like transport and storage temperatures, humidity and properties of packaging are decisive for a long lasting shelf life.