One of the biggest problems the Middle East faces, is the shortage of water. The depletion of the aquifers, which has been formed in millions of years, goes at a very rapid pace. The agricultural industry in the Middle East has to find new ways to grow their crop.
In the horticultural sector, a lot of valuable water is being used to cool the greenhouses. Cooling is necessary; without cooling the plants would be killed by the high temperatures. Therefore the use of water to grow for instance tomatoes in this way, is extremely high.
To grow 1 kg tomatoes: you need about 250 liters water!
Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), the biggest company of Saudi Arabia and one of the biggest chemical giants in the world, wants to help its country to find and introduce sustainable ways of growing vegetables in greenhouses. The company sponsors the investment of a highly sophisticated research station:
Sustainable Agricultural Research and Development Center,
which is being built in the city of Riyadh at the Riyadh Techno Valley.
The research is focussed on the reduction of the use of water and the increase of food quality. Greenhouses with all kind of techniques will be build to find the most optimal sustainable and economical solution(s) for growing vegetables. Very often solutions which scores very high at sustainability, also needs very sophisticated, hence expensive, techniques.
To prove the reachability to grow sustainable ánd economical, the research stations will have 9 greenhouses with different technically designs: from the nowadays used pad & fan tunnels up to the highly sophisticated closed greenhouse with all the variations in between.
The next variations will be build: greenhousetype, covering ( plastic and 3 varieties of glass), coolingdevice and soilculture or hydroponics. It will be the most complete research station in the Middle East and even of Asia.
The mentioned greenhouse at the topside of the scale, the closed greenhouse, is able to reduce the use of water from 250 litres of water to only 5 litres per kg!
The concept does not only reduce the use of water, it is also making use of thé big advantage of the region: light. By doing this, the production can be increased triple fold which is necessary for the pay back of the extra investment.
Wageningen University designed the plan for the Estidamah Research Center.
Bom Greenhouses, the innovative Netherlands based greenhouse builder, which has a huge experience with building closed greenhouse projects, will be the contractor of the greenhouses.
The Estidamah Research Center will be in operation from January 2016 onward.