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Tomato Greenhouse

Tomato Greenhouse

Soilless agriculture, conducted in specially formulated mediums such as "cocopeat," derived from compressed coconut shell pieces, has emerged as a pivotal modern greenhouse practice that operates without traditional soil usage.

This method involves precision-driven production techniques, with cultivation taking place 50-60 cm above the ground. It's conducted under controlled conditions, ensuring year-round temperature maintenance at or above 11-12 °C. These controlled environments incorporate automatic opening and closing ventilation systems and utilize an automated fertilizer system called EC, allowing for precise salt level and pH adjustments.

The global agricultural landscape has witnessed a significant shift towards soilless cultivation, particularly in the production of tomatoes. Alongside tomatoes, other edible crops like cucumbers and peppers have also found their niche in hydroponic greenhouses. More recently, soilless methods have expanded to encompass crops such as lettuce, leafy greens, and even strawberries, offering diverse and sustainable alternatives.

In Turkey, soilless greenhouses have notably proliferated in regions endowed with geothermal hot water sources. These geothermal waters, extracted from depths exceeding 1000 meters, vary across regions but provide a crucial advantage: they maintain greenhouse temperatures above 12°C, even when external temperatures plummet below freezing. This allows for intensive tomato production to occur for up to 10 months each year.

Planting typically commences in December and January within soilless greenhouses, and the intensive production cycle continues year-round. The temperature of geothermal water used in these greenhouses must reach 60°C or higher, with a substantial flow rate. Recent developments have extended the growing season, enabling two plantings per year in regions where water temperatures remain around 45°C, introducing a short-term autumn-spring cropping system.

Soilless production offers rapid cost recovery, with a streamlined and systematic production model amortizing initial costs within 2-3 years. Moreover, the standout feature of soilless agriculture is its high yield potential. While conventional soil-based greenhouse systems yield 10-12 tons of tomatoes per decare, soilless production can deliver a minimum of 30-35 tons per decare, with some regions achieving up to 50 tons of tomatoes. Notably, countries like the Netherlands and Canada employ artificial lighting in soilless systems, with yields ranging between 60-80 tons/decare.

In soilless tomato production, the choice of tomato type is crucial. Cluster tomatoes, typically bunches of 140-160g, are preferred for their vine-friendly harvesting method, presenting 5-7 fruits per cluster. These clusters are harvested with shears and packaged in foam containers, expertly wrapped in stretch film, ideal for wholesale markets.

Soilless tomatoes exhibit excellent potential for export and can command premium prices compared to standard greenhouse tomatoes. Recent studies exploring the economic feasibility of cultivating larger varieties, such as red and pink tomatoes in hydroponic greenhouses, have been particularly promising. These large red and pink tomato varieties, like Gülköy, Ergen, and Yükselköy, show higher yields and fetch higher prices than cluster tomatoes.

Careful attention to fertilization is paramount in soilless tomato production, as mistakes can disrupt the intricate balance of this system, which lacks the natural regulatory mechanisms found in traditional soil-based agriculture.

In conclusion, soilless agriculture represents a specialized and profitable production method that has revolutionized the tomato industry, offering efficient and sustainable alternatives for growers. This method thrives in temperate climates, avoiding freezing temperatures and optimizing yield. As a water-efficient option, it ensures that soil salinity remains within optimal parameters (pH 5.5 to 7.0). Soilless agriculture has become a highly effective and lucrative system in modern tomato production, offering a glimpse into the future of farming.

  • The tomato plant thrives in warm and temperate climate zones.
  • Ideally, the climate should remain frost-free during seedling planting.
  • Keeping temperatures above 15°C is essential for maximizing tomato yield.
  • Soil salinity should be closely monitored, maintaining pH levels between 5.5 and 7.0, as tomatoes are particularly sensitive to both high salinity and pH variations.

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