With a permanent population of 24 million, the average daily consumption demand for vegetables in the international metropolis of Shanghai amounts to about 18,000 tons. However, due to the limited planted area in the urban region, the city’s current vegetable production is far below the market demand. To provide abundant, fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables for the residents of Shanghai, more and more emerging agricultural enterprises have begun to build solar greenhouses in the urban area, and facility agriculture has also become the focus of agricultural development in this city. Youyou Agriculture is one of the leading enterprises in this development.
Director of Youyou Agriculture and a construction supervisor from Certhon
Agricultural innovation park
"The Sino-Dutch Agricultural Innovation Park covers an area of 1,979 mu, (over 130 hectares) including a newly built semi-closed greenhouse of 20 hectare,” said Yang Shaojun, Director of Youyou Agriculture while giving an overview of the industrial park. “The greenhouse is automatically controlled and equipped with precision irrigation and fertilisation. We use rainwater for the irrigation and have automated seeding solutions. Thanks to modern harvesting and packaging equipment and a plant waste recycling system, we are combining the world's leading horticultural technology and are realising a first-class, fully automated production greenhouse in Shanghai."
According to Yang, the the Agricultural Industrial Park project is to be complete by the end of this month and planting will begin shortly. "Cucumbers, lettuce, and other crops are expected to hit the market by November, and tomatoes and sweet peppers are to become available before the Spring Festival."
Greenhouse in the Youyou Innovation Park
Short cold chain
The produce grown at the Youyou Innovation Park, located about 60 kilometers away from downtown Shanghai, will be deliverd to the market on the same day as they were harvested. The produce is sold via an online platform created by the company. In addition they are also working with large supermarkets and e-commerce companies such as Sam's Club, Wal-Mart Supermarket, Hema Fresh, and Dingdong Fresh.
Horticulture in the city
When talking about the developing horticultural projects in the city region, Yang explains that Shanghai has very scarce land resources and a large population. "So the cost of land used for agricultural production is high. The labor cost is also increasing. In addition, the abundant rainfall during the growing season leads to serious issues with pests and diseases in open field cultivation. The increase in the use of chemicals to prevent pests and diseases has also led to increased production costs and product and environmental pollution. Therefore, it is a general trend to develop greenhouses in Shanghai."
In addition, the demand from the residents of this international metropolis for fresh, safe, healthy, and high-quality produce continues to grow, and their requirements are getting higher and higher. "Therefore, modern agriculture in Shanghai must take the high-quality and efficient route that is offered by high-tech horticulture."
After comparing various types of greenhouses, Youyou Agriculture finally decided on semi-closed greenhouses, making the company one of the first in China to apply this type of greenhouse. "The semi-closed greenhouse from the Netherlands is currently the world's leading production facility. It overcomes many shortcomings of traditional greenhouses and brings significant improvements in many aspects. It has high controllability, high uniformity, a low ventilation rate, positive pressure and saves 20% more than energy than traditional glass greenhouses", Yang shows.
"The combination of substrate cultivation and the semi-closed greenhouse offers us the opportunity to adjust the environmental conditions for the growth of crops such as light, temperature, water, air, and fertilizer, giving full play to the production potential of crops and plant growth. In these greenhouses crops grow fast and robust and are high in yield and quality."
Yin Rui at the Goni Greenhouse in Belgium (the MGS system is provided by Hortiplan). Also the leafy greens section of the new Youyou greenhouse will be equipped with this system, consisting of a growing field in which the growing plants (lettuces, herbs, ...) automatically move, in plant gullies, from the planting area to the harvesting area.
Yin Rui, Agronomics Engineer and Project Leader of turnkey supplier Certhon Greenhouse Solutions adds that China is an energy-scarce country. "Reducing energy use and thus increasing energy efficiency is vital to the development of agriculture. Semi-closed greenhouses reduce the exchange of the air inside and outside the greenhouse, maximizing energy efficiency. At the same time the CO2, as the ‘food’ of plants, is kept inside the greenhouse to the greatest extent. This design plays a vital role in saving energy, reducing emissions, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
Yin explains how the climate in the Shanghai area is also a challenge. "Shanghai is located on the east coast of China and the high temperature and humidity in summer make the environmental control of traditional greenhouses very challenging. The semi-closed greenhouses have a very good internal circulation, and since the indoor-outdoor air exchange is limited, this ensures that, unlike in tradition greenhouses which adopt active air circulation, all crops in the different part of the greenhouse are grown in an equal microclimate. This is also more ‘friendly’ to the Chinese growers."
The Innovation Park greenhouse construction site
Partnership for the long run
As a well-known greenhouse designer and builder in the Netherlands, Certhon has accumulated a vast experience in developing semi-closed greenhouses and provides all-round technical support in design, planning, construction, and planting. "We look forward to continue working with Certhon, also in the later stages of the project,” Yang said.
In recent years, Certhon has been continuously expanding its projects and business in China. The company currently has two local staff members responsible for the China market. "China is a big agricultural country full of challenges and opportunities. We hope to build this agricultural project into a demonstration project for the horticultural cooperation between China and the Netherlands. We’d like to promote advanced Dutch agricultural technology in China and contribute to China's modern agricultural development." Yin concluded.
Contact: Yang Shaoju
Tel.: +86 2158758888