Our research program aims to harness the natural efficiencies of glasshouse production and develop innovative solutions for the opportunities to use natural resources such as solar energy more effectively.
Our research program is designed to provide data and insights on key protected crops such as capsicums, cucumbers and eggplants. These crops are produced in planned phases to monitor their growth, productivity and performance under specific conditions from seedling through production to harvesting.
Glass That Captures Energy And Light
Every glasshouse relies on balancing the entry of light versus the build up of excessive heat energy and this process requires active cooling that can be very costly in the form of electricity to run air-conditioners or chill water. The aim of the glasshouse is to enable light to enter for growing plants and provide a stable growing environment of between 20 and 28C, either side of which plants’ growth is reduced.
It would make sense to use some of the light that would otherwise be converted to internal heat for other forms of energy. This research project aims to assess the use of solar glass that would potentially act as a contributor to energy needs of the glasshouse system while still enabling the entry of light for plant production.
In this research partnership with Swinburne University of Technology and Hort Innovation, we are testing the use of special films that reduce the entry of light at wavelengths that produce more heat inside the glasshouse structure. The aim is to test whether reductions in heat are acceptable in terms of plant growth and yield or whether this factoer actually affects plant growth.
Key Contact: Prof David Tissue
Stingless Bees For Glasshouse Pollination
In partnership with the Australian Horticulture industry through Hort Innovation, we are looking at native Australian pollinating insects as a potential means of taking care of pollination in glasshouses and other protected cropping environment.
The use of native stingless bees is being explored to potentially enable glasshouse pollination to be done continually. Some native bees have shown potential for thriving inside glasshouse or protected crop environments but more work is needed to determine how well different species pollinate and survive.
Using stingless bees could provide an efficient way to achieve reliable pollination with much less dependence on human labour as well as offering more uniform pollination, which itself is an issue when different parts of a flower truss are pollinated at different times. The year-round controlled environment inside a glasshouse might also mean that native bees can be safely and securely managed with broader benefits to native bee populations.
Key Contact : Prof James Cook