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Special greenhouse design for tropical climates:

Asia: New Alma greenhouse for Thai growers of Take Me Home

Thai  tomato growers Thomas Ruiter and Menno Keppel have recently built a state of art Alma greenhouse from Asian Perlite/ Greenhouse Solutions Asia. Luuk Runia was so kind to share some pictures of the construction process as well as a detailed case study on the greenhouse structure that is especially designed for growing in tropical climates.

'Take Me Home tomatoes' has its production area in the highlands just above Chiang Mai city, the capital of the most northern province in Thailand. The farm is located at an altitude of 850 meters above sea level, and therefore has a cooler climate, which is more suitable for the production of greenhouse vegetables than the lowlands.

Even-though the farm is located in the highlands, the climate is not optimal during all months of the year. In some months it is simply too hot or too humid for a good tomato fruit setting, resulting in lower yields. High-Tech measurements, such as cooling/screening/fogging or forced ventilation could be taken, but are relatively costly when put next to the yield returns in the country.

The only measurements that could be taken is looking for a location higher up, or using a greenhouse design that utilizes the natural climate in the most optimal way... Changing location was no option for Tame Me Home, since they've have set up a farm with all the necessary infrastructure over the last 10 years. Moving would be simply too expensive... so this knowledge left them with one other option; finding a greenhouse structure with the best climate without having to invest in high-tech solutions.

In their previous greenhouse design, a 'sawtooth' with a gutter that is at 2.5-3.0 meter and the roof top 4.0-4.5, the temperature inside is about 2.5 degrees Celsius higher than the temperature outside. Only when there is a bit of a breeze outside, the greenhouse design enables some ventilation, otherwise there is hardly any air movement inside. Unfortunately there is no constant breeze 700km from the ocean, and therefore most of the time no ventilation. 

'Asian Perlite Industries Sdn Bhd' designed the 'Alma' greenhouse construction, specifically for the tropical (lowland) climate, that enables ventilation at all times, even when there is no wind. Because of the design features of the 'Alma' greenhouse, the ventilation surface at the side and top of the greenhouse are 100% larger than the old greenhouse Take Me Home is using. 

Click here for a complete photo report of the Alma greenhouse at Take Me Home

So at the beginning of 2014 They started the construction of their first trail 'Alma greenhouse'... Now, at the end of October 'Take Me home' has already started harvesting in their first 2,000 square meter 'Alma greenhouse' and are more than enthusiast about the results. They have been recording the greenhouse versus the outside temperature and come to an average 1.5 degrees Celsius lower greenhouse temperature than the outside temperature. This is a reduction of 4.0 degrees in comparison with their old greenhouse! This is a huge improvement, that is clearly noticeable in the crop health, crop growth and production yields... the final results still have to come, but the start is very promising.

At the very moment the company is finishing the construction of their second 2,000 square meter greenhouse on a new plot of land. Besides building these new greenhouses the company has decides to start replacing the old greenhouses with the 'Alma greenhouse'. 

Take Me Home set themselves the goal of increasing their production with 50% in the next 2 years. Apart from building more greenhouses for this purpose the company has the strategy of increasing yields per m2 of existing land and infrastructure by upgrading the greenhouses to 'Alma'. Therefore the company has just expressed their intention to order another 4,000 meter in the beginning of 2015.

The success of the Greenhouse and its result cannot be solely  credited to the Alma greenhouse, as the Sercom irrigation unit in combination with good farm management by Menno Keppel and Thomas Ruiter and their team makes it a complete success story.

Click here for a complete photo report of the Alma greenhouse at Take Me Home

Asian Perlite and Take Me Home will be exhibiting at the Horti Asia 2015 in Bangkok from 17-19 March, 2015 at BITEC in Bangkok, Thailand.

For more information:
Asian Perlite Industries Sdn. Bhd. (Greenhouse Solutions Asia)
Luuk Runia, Director
72B Persiaran Camellia 4,
39000 Tanah Rata,
Cameron Highlands,
Pahang, Malaysia


Publication date: 11/13/2014
Author: Boy de Nijs



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