Posted on 25 January 2015
Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture, in cooperation with HortiMaX, is improving the water efficiency at the sweet pepper farm All Green in Egypt by automation of the crop irrigation.
The project started last year and revealed large and sudden fluctuations in sodium concentrations in the irrigation water. Another finding is that the production level of the farm is too low to justify investments in drain water collection and recirculation.
Both findings are now part of the Dutch-Egyptian collaborating research project for more efficient use of water and nutrients in greenhouses. The project also includes the introduction of biological crop protection.
Soil diseases, increasing water use
Egypt is an important exporter of vegetables to Europe and the Middle East. For the intensive cultivation of tomatoes and sweet peppers plastic greenhouses are used.
Problems with soil diseases, water use and emission of nutrients are increasing.
The collaborating Egyptian and Dutch governments are stimulating Egyptian companies to organise research into biological control, involving Dutch company Koppert, and the more efficient use of water and nutrients, involving Dutch company Hortimax.
Fluctuating sodium concentrations
The project revealed that in Egypt large and sudden fluctuations in the sodium content of irrigation water are common.
This means that any water storage must be divided in at least two parts to be able to test and refuse newly delivered water before it is mixed with irrigation water.
More yield to justify investments
The present production level in Egypt is just too low to justify the investment in drain water collection and recirculation. But to increase the efficiency of water and nutrient use drastically, recirculation of drain water is by far the most effective way.
Therefore the yield level must increase enough to pay for that investment. To do so a list of consecutive measures was made in such a way each measure increased yield enough to pay for the next measure. This is realised by introducing technical means such as screens and soil meters.
Egyptian growers are trained to use and interpret the information to ensure they can use the technical means as effective as possible.
About Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture
Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture is an independent international research institute that offers genuine quality and reliability. With 120 employees, it has access to a wide range of knowledge and expertise in many relevant fields, as well as research facilities and demo greenhouses that are unique in the world.
The institute develops new sustainable concepts for crop production as well as innovative technologies for greenhouse construction, climate control, energy saving and efficient energy conversion.
As water is the foundation for plant growth, the institute designs systems and technologies for monitoring and improving water quality, nutrients and plant health.
This news item was originally published on the website of Wageningen Greenhouse Horticulture.
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