Glasshouse tomato production

Work is underway on an innovative greenhouse research facility at the University of Warwick that is expected to boost yields, the speed of growth and product quality.

Planning was granted in February for the 1230m2facility at Wellesbourne Campus, with construction expected to be completed in time for crop trials this summer.

The new structure, named the Natural Light Growing (NLG) Centre, is being built by RIPE using patented materials and construction technology and will allow the full spectrum of natural light through into the protective growing environment.

This is expected to increase crop yield and the speed of growth, as well as improving qualities such as taste, plant health and vigour.

The beneficial effects of full-spectrum growing are not yet fully understood and the greenhouse will act as a demonstration facility to study various crop characteristics.

The project is a partnership between Crop Health andProtection (CHAP), one of the four UK Agritech Centres funded by the innovation agency Innovate UK; RIPE Building Services; and the University of Warwick, which will coordinate research through its School of Life Sciences.

It is the first major construction at Wellesbourne Campus since Warwick acquired the site in 2004. The new greenhouse will also be built in the year the site celebrates 70 years as a national centre of excellence for crop research.

Fraser Black, chief executive of CHAP, said: “This unique advanced facility combined with the scientific excellence onsite will both accelerate the research into the benefits of natural light growing as well as providing a real-world demonstration to commercial growers of how the future of growing protected crops is heading.”

Phillip Lee, the managing director of RIPE Building Services, added: “One of the many advantages of this unique design is the ease of construction, and now that planning permission is granted and work underway, we look forward to the build being complete in time for first crop trials this summer.”

The new structure will be completed this month and officially opened in summer 2019.