Reducing ventilation requirements in semi-closed greenhouses increases water use efficiency

N. Katsoulas, A. Sapounas, H.F. de Zwart, J.A. Dieleman, C. Stanghellini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


We explore an under-appreciated side effect of semi-closed greenhouses: the ability to recover transpired water, thereby increasing water use efficiency. Semi-closed greenhouses are fit with cooling equipment, to limit natural ventilation requirements for temperature and humidity control. We assess the effect of cooling system capacity on ventilation needs of semi-closed greenhouses under different climate conditions and provide a general framework to evaluate potential water savings using the semi-closed greenhouse concept in different regions. We simulate greenhouse climate and crop yields for various cooling system capacities in Central Europe (The Netherlands) and Mediterranean (Greece and Algeria) by implementing a "cooling module" into an existing greenhouse model (KASPRO) and validating it using concurrent experimental data. Increasing the capacity of the cooling system has a double effect on water use efficiency (WUE): increase of fruit yield due to improved microclimate and lower water use, due to collection and reuse of vapour condensed in the heat exchanger and, to a lesser extent, lower crop transpiration. Thus WUE is strongly associated to the capacity of the cooling system. Finally, we show that there is a unique relationship between water use efficiency and the coupling of greenhouse environment to the outside air (an indicator of ventilation requirements), for all regions studied.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-99
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • closed greenhouses
  • climate conditions
  • plant-compounds
  • tomato yield
  • crop
  • evapotranspiration
  • irrigation
  • simulation
  • quality
  • leaf

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