An ebb-and-flow floor heats and cools by means of hoses under the floor. With the injection of air, the air around the crop is heated or cooled. That’s ErfGoed’s new Airflow system in a nutshell. The airflow achieved in this way brings several positive effects—for example, a better-growing climate and savings in energy costs. Initial trial results are promising, but other practical trials should provide more insight into the exact opportunities and possibilities.
The principle of the Airflow system, which ErfGoed has been testing for some time at its site in Moerkapelle, is straightforward. “The patented system is connected to an ErfGoedFloor Excellent with an ebb and flow system,” explains Cor Bremmer, Commercial Director at ErfGoed. “A few centimeters under this floor are hoses to cool and heat the floor. We also bring in cool or warm air. This is done through distribution pipes. These are fitted with holes, allowing the distribution of air through the floor.”
Better growing climate and energy savings
The introduction of warm air brings several benefits. “With normal floor heating, you only heat the pot. With the Airflow system, warm air is actively introduced, and an even airflow is created. This also heats the area around the pot. Our tests also show: the air temperature around the plant is higher than the pot temperature. In addition, the airflow provides a continuous supply of drier air. These two things contribute to better evaporation, which keeps the plant more active. And this benefits nutrient absorption and thus growth.”
In addition, there are opportunities for energy savings, Bremmer points out. “You can use low-grade heat with which you heat the bottom heat to heat both the pot and the plant and surrounding environment. This makes a big difference in terms of energy consumption. How much exactly is unclear at this point; we need to investigate that further.”
Growth gains through cooling
The Airflow system can also be used for cooling by utilizing the ebb and flow option and putting a layer of water on the floor. “However, you can also choose to connect the hoses to a heat pump, for example, and feed cold water through this,” Bremmer explains. “By introducing air simultaneously, an airflow is created. In this way, the floor and the air around the plants are cooled. In addition, the humidity goes up. All this is positive for crop growth: you prevent the crop from closing its stomata in hot periods and stalling photosynthesis. Resulting in growth gains.”
Setting up field trials
Initial trials of the Airflow system are showing promising results. “But we also still have questions; there are still several things to investigate,” Bremmer emphasizes. “We want to optimize the system further and gain insight into its added value in specific situations. Therefore, we will set up trials in practice with growers. We would like to connect with entrepreneurs who are open to this. And of course, they are also welcome to visit our trial site to observe the course of the trial and discuss further possibilities.
In short: the principle of the Airflow system definitely offers potential but needs further development.”