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UK: Bridge Greenhouses complete NIAB new research facility

by Graeme Hammer
Published: Last Updated on
Food & Farming News & Updates

Bridge Greenhouses have recently completed a glasshouse facility along with two multi-span polytunnels for NIAB at their research facility in East Malling. The bespoke turnkey project involved the design and installation of a 2,300m2 glasshouse comprising 21 individually controlled climate compartments. The compartments ranged from 24m2 to 384m2 to offer a huge amount of flexibility for trials of varying sizes.

The two 2,000m2 multi-span polytunnels also provide 14 individual growing compartments, each with a separate lobby area.

The growing conditions within the glasshouse compartments are precisely controlled using a combination of heating, cooling, shade screens, blackout screens, vertical screens, LED and HPS Grow lights, misting lines, ventilation fans, and a drip irrigation system.


A Trend BMS system supplied by our partners Unigro monitors and controls every aspect of each growing environment to ensure they maintain exactly the right climate while maximizing energy efficiency.

Two highly efficient 1MW Air Source Heat Pumps provide the cost-effective, low-carbon heat source for the entire glasshouse. They work in conjunction with bespoke fan coil units within each chamber to distribute the heat evenly over the whole area. The fan coil units were carefully designed to operate effectively at low flow temperatures to maximize the efficiency of the air source heat pumps. They also have the added benefit of eliminating the need for an array of heating pipework on the roof of the glasshouse, which increases the shading of the crop.

A 168kW chiller plant supplies the cooling for some of the compartments, which utilize a combined heating/cooling fan coil unit to evenly distribute the air.



Some compartments utilize double screens with a blackout/shade cloth combination, while others have a single energy/shade screen to further improve the environmental control and energy efficiency of the glasshouse.


The glasshouse forms part of NIAB’s GreenTech Innovation Hub, which also included a new high-tech facilities building constructed by the main contractor, SDC builders, along with plant growth chambers installed by Unigro. The Greentech Innovation Hub will add to the existing capabilities at NIAB to conduct innovative research in collaboration with the industry, including developing varieties and growing systems of the future to deal with the challenges and opportunities which the UK horticulture sector face. For enquires about collaborating with NIAB at East Malling, contact [email protected].

This project was an opportunity to allow Bridge to showcase some of the latest technologies being used in the glasshouse industry as well as create a facility that would meet all client’s needs.

For more information:
Bridge Greenhouses
+44 (0)1243 641789

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