Nowadays, greenhouses with cooling systems are in high demand due to their ability to produce 12 months a year. Especially the countries with low energy cost, high temperatures at summer and expensive tomato prices are in more need. Turkey-based greenhouse development group Aytekin therefore delved into the opportunities for their new ‘PolyClima’ greenhouse design to tailor a profitable growing climate in these circumstances.
Tomato production inside the Aytekin Polyclima greenhouse
Year round production
In order to be sure to develop a design in which year round high quality crops could be grown, even during warm and humid summer months, Aytekin broke ground for a 5,000 square meter R&D greenhouse facility. They decided to locate the prototype in Mersin, Turkey, next to one of their local production factories where they manufacture greenhouse parts. “On the location in Mersin, temperatures hit 42 degrees Celsius in summer months, with an average humidity level of 65% during the day”, said Bülent Aytekin, CEO of the Aytekin Group. “Although not as hot as the desert climate, we thought that the value of the humidity would present an appropriate chance to test and validate our theory and technologies.”
Production and ROI
Aytekin explained that it took 4 years working on the new greenhouse design and cooling system. “We started with the R&D of the PolyClima project in 2014. We aimed at creating a new greenhouse design with special air treatment systems to cool and control the indoor growing climate. We asked ourselves is only cooling enough to grow plants? Do the plants react same way even if its in a conditioned climate? What is the amount of cooling the plant needs in order to keep them healthy, grow efficient and reach the highest quality and production? How much humidity control does the system allow? Could we make a versatile design that would be more useful rather than just cooling? And while using all the available systems, what is the best way to keep energy consumption at the lowest levels, realize the lowest investment costs and fastest return on investment?”
The air handling and heating systems of the Aytekin Polyclima system
During 4 years of R&D, the PolyClima R&D team of Aytekin gained a lot of new insights and information on the new and sophisticated cultivation methods. “We believed if we could grow tomatoes, successfully and healthily in this climate, it would provide a remarkable experience and a foundation of information. We have spent the first 4 years working intensively and learning from our experiences. During this process we have trained agricultural engineers to control the system and the plant growth.”
7 hectares of Polyclima in Qatar
After researching and developing for 4 years, the Aytekin Group successfully launched their first commercial 7 hectare Polyclima greenhouse project in Qatar. “This country has one of the warmest climates in the world, the temperature can hit 52 degrees Celsius. In 2020, we have carried out our first planting in the turn key project. The management of the greenhouse is done with the help of 5 of our own agricultural engineers.”
The air treatment chamber of the Polyclima greenhouse design
Up to this day, the outdoor temperature has reached 46 degrees Celsius in Qatar. According to Aytekin, the inside climate in the Polyclima is managed perfectly. “We are able to keep the temperature at 22 degrees Celsius in our greenhouse during the day and stably control the humidity value while keeping it around the value of 70%. We are not using the cooling system and the other subsidiary climate control systems at full capacity yet. The plants are healthy and production results are promising.”
Ridder account manager Rob Veenstra helped AYS Proje with the knowledge and technical support related to the Ridder MultiMa climate control system of the Polyclima greenhouse
Ayteking said that the temperature, humidity, plant health and productivity are balanced in perfect harmony. “We have seen that our productivity will surpass our expectations. This is also due to the perfect climate control solutions that Ridder provided for our Polyclima system. They have shared their experience and insights for this type of cultivation method with us.
Turnkey solution for investor
Aytekin explained that the R&D greenhouse in Mersin brought many new insights related to optimizing plant growth in harsh conditions. Yet also the investment and ROI was brought under the attention.
“Our own agricultural engineers have been proceeding their developments and research in our R&D Polyclima greenhouse in Mersin. This year they planted pepper, for which the cooling, humidity regulation, health of the plant, energy consumption, product quality and productivity have been our priority when it comes to statistical data. The health of the plant and productivity have been quite successful up to this point. But also the balance of the investment cost are top of mind. Because we do not only sell and set up Polyclima greenhouses, but also want to take the responsibility of production management, consultancy and staff education for at least 2 years. We believe that contributing to a project in this way is vital for the investor’s success. We share the ability to take the responsibility at every step in order for the investor to succeed.”