dr.ir. JA (Anja) Dieleman

dr.ir. JA (Anja) Dieleman

Senior scientist plant physiology

Dr. ir. J.A. (Anja) Dieleman received her MSc degree in Greenhouse Horticulture in 1992 and her PhD degree on the role of cytokinins in bud break in roses in 1998 at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. Since 2000, she works as senior scientist at the business unit Greenhouse Horticulture of Wageningen University & Research. With greenhouse crop physiology as her main application field, her research interests are the effects of greenhouse climate factors (light, CO2, temperature) and cropping systems on crop growth and development, including underlying processes like photosynthesis and transpiration. Recently, she has been working on the design of energy efficient LED based production systems, plant monitoring systems and effects of spectral composition of the light on plant growth, development and morphology. Since 2020, she is also working on the development of autonomous greenhouse cultivation systems. This research is done in close collaboration with greenhouse growers, (international) horticultural supply companies and national government.

Application of LED lighting in sustainable greenhouse systems.

Application of LED lighting in museum lighting, human perception and in agriculture

Working towards an autonomous greenhouse in the AGROS project

Greenhouse horticulture plays a key role in fresh fruit and vegetable production for a growing population. Over the past decades, greenhouse businesses have become larger and larger, and cultivation increasingly complex: growers nowadays have to balance production with the use of energy, water, and nutrients. To top it all off, there is scarcity of skilled labour that can oversee all the complex processes in a greenhouse.

At present, a grower has to decide on the right setpoints for all parameters at every moment: heating, ventilation, dehumidification, shading, artificial lighting, crop management actions, scouting for pests and diseases, and release of predators or precision spraying are among the decisions to be made. A well-educated and very experienced grower can oversee most aspects of such a system. However, soon there will be too few of these highly skilled growers worldwide.

“What we need, is an autonomous greenhouse”, says Anja Dieleman, AGROS project leader and researcher at WUR Greenhouse Horticulture. “In such a greenhouse, the crop takes center stage and cultivation is controlled based on pre-determined goals. Prerequisites are extensive knowledge of crop physiology, accurate sensors that can measure relevant crop characteristics, and intelligent algorithms to control the greenhouse autonomously.”

To feed a growing population with fresh fruit and vegetable in the future, the new production systems need to be developed so that they can be operated by less experienced growers and even by non-agricultural investors, anywhere in the world.

In the AGROS project ‘Towards an autonomous greenhouse’, WUR Greenhouse Horticulture researchers are working together with business partners to realise fully automated cultivation in greenhouses. Anja: “We have taken steps from data collection with sensors, to data-driven support of cultivation, and the development of intelligent algorithms. Soon we hope to be able to apply them and further improve sustainable production systems for healthy and fresh food.”

The research team’s vision of the future is an autonomous greenhouse in which the expert knowledge of an experienced grower is replaced by artificial intelligence. With new model-based control algorithms, the conditions in the greenhouse can be autonomously adjusted to achieve the cultivation goals. Watch the video to find out more about their work.