In 2009, Kochi, also known as ‘the land of horticulture’ due to the popularity of its crops, entered into an agreement with the Netherlands, a leader in protected horticulture, to increase agricultural technology and maximise crop yield.
With help from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, next-generation high-tech farming is commencing in 10 locations around Kochi. One of the largest facilities is in Shimantocho, located Just west of Kochi city centre.
The next-generation facility consists of three greenhouses that are 6 metres high and 72 to 88 metres long, covering a total area of 4.3 hectares. Temperature, humidity and the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) inside the greenhouses is automatically controlled by computer and kept at optimum levels with the goal of increasing yield 30% over traditional green-house farming.
Plants consume CO2 as part of photosynthesis. We live in an environment of approximately 400 ppm of CO2 all the time. Elevating this concentration creates higher yields of more flavourful and dense fruits or flowers. This translates to better quality and profits for the clients.
The greenhouses have been constructed with high eaves designed to not only increase yield, but also to increase the air capacity within the greenhouses to make it easier to adjust the temperature and concentration of CO2. The greenhouses are also designed to let in more light and create less shadow. In addition, a wood biomass boiler is used to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by 30% and enables crop growth year round.
The CO2 produced from the biomass boilers contains impurities so it cannot be used to supply CO2 to the greenhouses and is therefore used for heating at night. When heating is not required, liquefied CO2 is used.
Tomatoes are grown at the facility for the large food and drink manufacturer Kagome. Three companies operate the greenhouses: Shimanto Mihara Farm, Best Grow, an affiliate company of Shimanto Mihara Farm, and Shimanto Tomato, a conglomerate of several local companies.
The Gas Review, issue no. 433