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Julius Kühn-Institut

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Areas of Application: Entomology, Plant Growth
Product Types: Standard Growth Rooms, SGC 120 Insect Incubation Chambers

The Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, is both a federal research institute and a higher federal authority divided into 15 specialised institutes. JKI counsels the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection for all issues in relation to plant protection and plant health, including breeding research and genetic resources.  

JKI provides research facilities in Quedlinburg, Braunschweig, Berlin, Darmstadt, Dresden-Pillnitz, Dossenheim, Groß Lüsewitz, Kleinmachnow, Münster and Siebeldingen (Palatinate), Germany.

The Siebeldingen site is predominantly focused on vine cultivation and plant protection in wine growing. Weiss Technik UK offered JKI a customised plant growth solution as part of the tender process for a new build project on site. The project comprised of four Fitotron® Standard Growth Rooms and six Fitotron® SGC 120 Insect Incubation Chambers installed in the basement of the new build greenhouse. The challenge was to install the rooms alongside the industrial manufacturing equipment to very tight building dimensions and to fulfil the required technical specification within scope.

Fitotron® Standard Growth Rooms (SGRs):

The SGRs are used by scientists to perform research in a number of areas:

  • Incubation and characterisation of harmful fungi e.g. Plasmopara viticola, Guignardia bidwellii, Erysiphe necator, Phaeomoniella chlamydospora on pot vines, wood samples or leaf sheaths
  • Efficiency of test matter that is eligible for ecological wine growing e.g. substitutes for copper

Room performance:

  • Three tier growing area: 6.24m2
  • Interior dimensions: 3010mm x 2180mm x 2000mm (w x d x h)
  • Temperature range:
    - Lights on: +4°C to +50°C
    - Lights off: +4°C to +35°C
    (+50°C in the sterilisation mode, <10°C with automatic defrost function)
  • Temperature fluctuation: < ±1K spatial fluctuation in stable mode
  • Humidity range:
    - Lights on: 40%RH to 95%RH
    - Lights off: 40%RH to 85%RH
  • Humidity fluctuation: <±5% fluctuation of the relative humidity in the stable condition over time
  • Dewpoint range:
    - Lights on: +4°C to +28°C
    - Lights off: +4°C to +26°C
  • Fresh air flow-rate: automatic sealing in case of sterilisation, 80m3/hour with a unit to pre-dry, in addition to air cleaners and insect grids
  • Air conditioning unit in the ceiling area, with air deflectors leading to the side walls. Laminar air flow across the whole longitudinal side with max. 0.5m/s flow rate
  • High-frequency fluorescent bulbs, dimmable 10% to 100%
  • Light levels, left side: 180 µmol µmol m-2s-1 on each shelf, measured 350mm below the lamps at 25°C
  • Light levels, right side: 250 µmol m-2s-1, measured 350mm below the lamps at 25°C

The rooms are constructed adjacently as double rooms (mutual interior wall) and are provided with water and compressed air supply. The water chiller provided by the building is limited to 6°C therefore the chambers are fitted with externally constructed chillers.

SGC 120 Insect Incubation Chambers

The six Fitotron® SGC 120 Insect Incubation Chambers are used for a variety of applications:

Two chambers for mite breeding:

  • Containment of harmful mites (Calipitrimerus vitis, Colomerus vitis, Tetranychus urticae und Panonychus ulmi) and useful mites (Typhlodromus pyri, Orthotydeus götzi).
  • Behavioral and eating experiments
  • Research into the biology of useful mites
  • Testing of possible side effects of pesticides on useful mites

Two chambers for insect breeding:

  • Containment of grape berry month e.g. Lobesia botrana, Eupoecilia ambiguella; ladybugs (Harmonia axyridis) and spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii)
  • Research into the chemical ecology and egg laying behaviour of grape berry moths
  • Testing the attraction of various types of grapes on the spotted-wing drosophila
  • Testing the efficacy of insecticidal substances

Two chambers for vector breeding rooms:

  • Breeding of phytoolasma transferring types of cicades e.g. Hyalesthes obsoletus, Reptalus panzeri
  • Communication tests of phytoplasmas through cicadas from plant species to plant species
  • Research into the biology and transfer efficiency of vector cicades

The available climate range of the chambers is lower in comparison to the Fitotron® SGRs therefore the water chiller provided by the building is sufficient. The chambers are constructed as twin cabins that simulate climate conditions independent from each other.

  • Three tier growing area: 9.36m2
  • Internal dimensions: 2310mm x 4200mm x 2000mm (w x d x h)
  • Temperature range:
    - Lights on and lights off: +10°C to +30°C
  • Temperature fluctuation <± 1.5K spatial fluctuation in a stable state
  • Humidity range: no regulation, the humidity index value equals to 77.5%RH and may vary between 60%RH and 95%RH
  • Fresh air flow: 12m3/hour, supply and extracted air at the building side
  • Air conditioning unit in the ceiling area with air deflectors leading to the side walls. Laminar air flow across the whole longitudinal side with max. 0.5m/s flow rate
  • Cultivation illumination: similar to rooms

All chambers have isolated floors with nonslip premium steel chequer plate surfaces that are built on a substructure of floor voids for ventilation purposes and therefore allow ground level access. The light-tight closable windows of the doors and the frames  are heated to prevent condensation.

The control and monitoring of the chambers takes place either centrally via the network-based FitoView® software or via the individual 7’’ touch screen panel which is located on each chamber. The user-friendly menu guidance has a wide range of functions to optimally simulate climate environmental conditions.

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