A newly developed Al Waha hydroponics farm celebrated the first harvest of cucumbers, it was announced yesterday.
The new project of 80,000sq m of soil-less cultivation in greenhouses was developed and built by Agrico, one of the leading farms and greenhouse developers in Qatar.
In this project Agrico has implemented its knowledge and expertise accumulated during 10 years of experience operating in protected agriculture in Qatar.
Al Waha farm is managed jointly by Agrico and Yara International ASA (Norway), according to a statement.
The project aims to introduce to the local farms the most sustainable crop management systems suited for the Qatari climate, which can achieve high yields and productivity while conserving precious local water resources.
The farm will produce fresh vegetables from nine to 10 months in hydroponics, a method of growing fruits and vegetables without the use of natural soil.
Crops are grown in substrate that is constantly fed with nutrient solutions. This way of growing reduces the risk of plants being exposed to soil diseases and allows saving of water, fertilisers and agro-chemicals.
In addition, yields in hydroponics are usually higher than in soil based cultivation, meaning more production using less land, fertilisers and water and the prevention of land contamination.
The team of growers of Al Waha farm has gone through extensive training on the Trial and Demonstration Center that Qafco, Agrico and Yara opened earlier this year.
The first plantation of cucumbers in late April was carefully planned by Yara and Agrico agronomists to help to meet the high demand for locally grown vegetables during the holy month of Ramadan.
Such late plantation in greenhouses without cooling was possible through combination of the applied greenhouse technology, selection of strong variety of seeds, fertigation and crop monitoring methods and skills of the growers at the farm.
This methodology would extend the growing season for fresh vegetables in Qatar until June in greenhouses without cooling, and demonstrate significant savings in use of water which is used for evaporative cooling.
All plants are constantly fed with nutrient solution via a drip irrigation system that precisely combines water and required nutrients.
The nutrient solution is prepared from high quality water soluble fertilisers according to Yara nutrient management standards and is tailored for each crop and each stage of growth.
Different irrigation regimes and recipes are managed by a specialised fertigation computer. This analysis allows the accurate monitoring of the quality of water, composition of the nutrients and nutrient absorption rate of plants and the correction of the nutrient recipes, if necessary.
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