Supermarket chain in Croatia is growing its own tomatoes

Achieving 60kg/m2 yields for three consecutive years

Belje, a subsidiary of one of Croatia’s largest privately-owned agricultural companies, now produces consistently high-quality yields of grappolo and beef tomatoes throughout the year, despite the country’s sub-zero winters, thanks to its collaboration with Netafim.

This is Belje’s first greenhouse foray into field-to-plate vertical integration and they have been impressed with above-target results - a consistent 620 tonnes per hectare. 

In order to implement the project, Belje commissioned global agricultural projects experts Netafim to build a huge greenhouse covering 4.7ha (about five football pitches) at Mitrovac, in the north-eastern Baranja region.

Dairy farm
The high-tech greenhouse is powered by a neighboring dairy farm – one of Croatia’s biggest, with up to 2,000 cows - together with a 2MW biogas renewable energy facility, and a solar power plant. All of which provide a very cost-effective and sustainable way to provide heat in a climate where January temperatures typically drop to -6C.

The tomatoes are grown in soilless substrate with a drip irrigation system provided by Netafim, in which all irrigated drain water is collected and treated, saving 40% in water consumption and 30% in fertilizer costs.

The Agrokor Group, with 40,000 employees, is investing €300m in four similar projects through its food and agricultural production subsidiary Belje.

New in the field
Given that Belje is a relative new-comer to greenhouse farming, and this was their first move into vertical integration, capacity building played a critical role in the success of the project.

Netafim’s local team of experts were on hand teaching local staff, in their own language, how to operate the irrigation and fertigation systems and how to maintain these systems throughout the crop life-cycle. Furthermore, the team provided precise guidance on when to plant, how to irrigate and what nutrients to provide to ensure best growing conditions to maximize yields.

“Based on such success, we look forward to working together with Netafim on additional projects and maintaining fruitful, long-term cooperation. In addition to delivering the project on-time and on-spec, Netafim gave us the peace of mind as we made our first entry into the agricultural production sector.”

The greenhouse has been achieving its goal of producing 60kg yields per m2 for the three consecutive years since it opened. Netafim’s project manager Liad Blaier said: "We delivered a nearly 5ha project in less than half a year. This is an exceptional achievement and can be attributed to our joint efforts."

For more information:

Netafim will exhibit at the GreenTech next week in Amsterdam. Meet the team at GreenTech 2018, booth #12.323." 

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