Announcements

Job offersmore »




Tweeting Growers

Top 5 - yesterday

Top 5 - last week

Top 5 - last month

Exchange ratesmore »




greenhouse produce the new oil?

UAE: Hydroponics solution for growers in the deserts

Farmers in the Middle East have taken the initiative to stick together and share their knowledge on how best to grow food in the desert. A group from Bahrain visited two hydroponic farms in the UAE last week to learn about advanced technologies they could apply back home.

“We started the hydroponic system last year,” said Faisal Alawi, a Bahraini who has been farming for 20 years. “But I want to learn more about it because I noticed it’s better than conventional methods in open fields.”

Mr Alawi grows cucumbers, tomatoes, chili and herbs on his 3,000-square-metre farm. But not only are the conditions challenging, the space is limited.

“In Bahrain, the obstacles are the lack of water and there is no space,” he said. “This is a problem because, if you don’t have space and water, you can’t grow. But with hydroponics, we can take a small area and grow anything.”

He was one of two farmers who visited technologically advanced hydroponic farms in Al Awir and Ras Al Khaimah this past week with the Dubai-based International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas. “I see a huge difference with hydroponics, which is the reason why we want to adopt it,” he said. “All the results we see are positive – reduced water, fertiliser use and less area used with more yield produced.  I’m hopeful that what I learn from here, I’ll be able to apply it back home and my aim is to also teach other farmers there.”

Sadeq Mirza, who has farmed in Bahrain for the past 10 years, said the soil salinity made it almost impossible to grow crops.

“I need to learn what fertiliser to use and what problems hydroponic farming could have because I need to start using more hydroponics in my greenhouses,” he said. “I want to see what I need for this system.”

His 25,000-square-metre farm grows tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and herbs.

“I saw a lot of improvement with hydroponics,” he said. “I used much less water, the fruits were of better quality and I don’t have to use pesticides, which have become a lot more expensive. The system also prevents diseases from reaching the plants.”

Staff from the centre introduced the pair to advanced hydroponic technologies, implemented in the UAE last year.

“We introduced an automatic controller system which controlled the salinity and acidity of the solution used for the crops, which means the nutrients’ concentration,” said Dr Naem Mazahrih, an irrigation and water management specialist at the centre. “After a year, we found the yield increased by 30 to 50 per cent, depending on the location of the farm and the farmer’s education.”

Seven controllers were installed on local farms last year and a new system was just set up on a farm in RAK.

“Each year, we bring two farmers from a different country,” said Dr Mazahrih. “Last year, they came from Oman and Yemen.” The farmers were able to witness how the system was built, how it worked and how to calibrate it. “It’s small but it can monitor the injection of fertiliser inside the irrigation tank,” he said. “And they can grow all types of vegetable crops like cucumbers and tomatoes.”

Dr Mazahrih said many farmers in the region had the perception that hydroponic farming was too complicated.

“But it’s not, it controls everything to ensure the plant takes up all the nutrients it requires,” he said. “This will allow maximum efficiency of nutrient absorption." “So far, the project has been successful and our demonstration on one greenhouse revealed that the production of food increased by up to 50 per cent with a better quality fruit.”

Source: thenational.ae


Publication date: 10/10/2013

 

 
 
tweet
 
share

email
   
print
 
subscribe

 

Other news in this sector:

9/16/2014 “There is always a market for quality”
9/16/2014 US (MN): Very clean lettuce thanks to fish waste
9/16/2014 UK: Successful conference on Vertical and Urban farming at Nottingham University
9/16/2014 Bad situation in horticulture forces another Dutch tomato grower to stop
9/15/2014 "Future success of Japanese horticulture depends on the adaptation of Dutch technology"
9/11/2014 Australia: 16 hectare project of Cor Disselkoen taking off
9/10/2014 US (ME): A day in the greenhouse with Backyard Farms' Head Grower
9/10/2014 US: Growing plants in the Sonoran Desert
9/10/2014 US (CT): New Nexus Greenhouse at Sam Bridge in full production
9/8/2014 "Lack of Dutch flavoured tomatoes is a loss for the Russians!"
9/5/2014 UK: Gardener grows two tomatoes shaped just like rubber ducks
9/5/2014 US (MN): Ely man's tomato smashes world record
9/4/2014 US (NY): High tunnel in Watertown shelters raspberries from elements
9/4/2014 Africa: An organic approach to growing business
9/4/2014 US (NM): Large-scale hydroponic farming taking seed in Albuquerque
9/4/2014 Australia: Why Steffen is Passionate about Greenhouses
9/3/2014 Export of knowledge opens door to worldwide expansion for Dutch growers of Prominent
9/1/2014 US (MI): Henry Mast Greenhouses/Masterpiece Flower Company builds partnerships that stand the test of time
9/1/2014 US: Local farmers respond to NYT piece on local farming viability
8/29/2014 Tomato grower Paul Stoffels grows kiwi berries