Tomato greenhouse technology from India that is being trialled in Tasmania, is ‘very interesting’ to tomato growers on the mainland too, according to Chris Millis, Farm Manager for one of the country’s larger tomato growers, Flavorite, which grows greenhouse products like tomatoes and capsicums. “The technology being used at Turner’s Beach is the sort that turns forest waste into a gas byproduct. All greenhouses need some form of heating,” he said. The presence of carbon dioxide is essential for successfully growing tomatoes too, and that process needs to be helped along by growers in a greenhouse environment. “Some growers inject liquid CO2, which is expensive, and others burn natural gas to promote the process.”
The option of burning LPG to fuel greenhouse burners is costly, and the method being trialled by Brandsema & Sons in Tasmania produces heat and CO2 much more cost effectively, Mr Millis said. “If they don’t have access to cheap natural gas. LPG is a very expensive way to heat. When you start looking at LPG, coal or wood chip burning to fuel the boilers, these sorts of techniques are an attractive option.”
When it isn't being burned and heating the greenhouses where tomatoes are grown, biomass becomes a problem because it usually goes to landfill, he says. The fact that forest and agricultural biomass is renewable and can replace the use of fossil fuel is also a bonus.
Flavorite would consider using similar technology to what Brandsema & Sons does, Mr Millis said, but the price of using any method is still the number one consideration for his team. “The biggest issue that will impact our decision will be the price of gas,” he said. “We could set up a similar method within 12 months or so, from investment to pricing and equipment set up, so that wouldn't really be an issue if we decide to switch over.”
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