Category Archives: Agribusiness

Closing the gap between the youth and agriculture in Africa

Agriculture and youth are a compatible pair, particularly in the African context. As one of the continent’s most critical industries and biggest sources of income – contributing a quarter of Africa’s total GDP and employing 70 percent of the labour force). It has the remarkable potential to empower what will be the youngest and biggest workforce in the world by 2040.
Neil Palmer (CIAT) via
Already half the continent’s population is under the age of 25, and 72 percent of these young people are either unemployed or vulnerable to the harsh societal challenges such as HIV and AIDS, as well teenage pregnancy. These astonishing statistics show no signs of diminishing either. With over 330 million young Africans set to enter the job market in the next 20 years, only a third of that number is forecast to find jobs.

Barriers to participation

What this indicates is a growing need for workable solutions for the youth to become productive and part of the economic mainstream. This is especially true for agriculture, which has the potential to create jobs across the continent and serve as a driver of growth. However, the industry is currently lagging in building this growth largely because of a lack of access to knowledge, skills, education as well as land.

Financial literacy and land issues are currently the main barriers to increasing the participation of young people in the sector. Access to arable land is difficult to come by for the majority of young citizens, even if they are interested in pursuing a career or business options in the agricultural industry.

In Mozambique, for instance, rights of access to land are tightly controlled as land is owned by the state. The legal framework is currently not in favour of ordinary citizens. It is heartening, however, to note that land reform options that include privatisation are at least being debated. Access to and use of land is being explored as a means of reducing poverty and creating opportunities for the country’s people.

Policy makers dedicated to promoting farming among youth needed

Mozambique is by no means the only African country facing these types of concerns surrounding land. Land issues are typically driven by policy – or a lack thereof. In order to overcome these barriers, there is a need for policy makers that understand the intricacies of the industry to respond to the need for change. More robust and focused policies are required to bring young people into farming. It is, therefore, necessary to bring in and hone policymakers that are dedicated to promoting farming among the youth.

Using technology and innovation key

Also key to bringing greater numbers of young people into agriculture is the use of technology and innovation. There is already a raft of successful solutions in several markets, including 2Kuze in Kenya and eKilimo in Tanzania, which was introduced by payments technology company MasterCard to bring farmers and buyers together through their mobile phones and digitise the agricultural value chain. With the continued growth of mobiles all over the continent, the introduction of these types of solutions will ramp up and help young citizens make a living through agriculture.

Under the Absa affiliated initiative called Rise, a global startup community pioneering financial services with the aim of unlocking Africa’s potential, Zambian farmers now have access to a B2B marketplace, empowering farmers to sell fresh products directly to market, eliminating the need for middlemen.

The value of public-private partnerships and investment

However, technology on its own will not be able to encourage the youth and transform the sector. There is a need for investment in the industry through public-private partnerships. One such example that is bearing fruit is the Zazu Marketplace (which is supported by a Barclays Global open innovation programme, Rise). Zazu is a digital marketplace that connects farmers to buyers, allowing farmers in Zambia to sell and have their produce delivered to the retailer through real-time analysis.

Among other things, these public-private partnerships are helping close the gap between young people and the financing they require to work the land and build successful careers in the sector. In November last year, for example, US Aid introduced a loan facility of up to $24m to assist cashew, cereal and fruit smallholder farmers in West Africa.

We have seen that growth at Absa too – with our book growing from significantly in the last three years in Ghana through USAID MRS (Maize Rice and Soya) initiative called FIN-GAP (Financing Ghanaian Agriculture Project). The aim of the project is to improve access to financial institutions by farmers in the rural areas of the Northern Ghana. This indicates that there are massive opportunities for growth if the sphere is strengthened and more young people are encouraged to join the industry.

There is much room for development to harness the potential of agriculture in young people’s lives, especially if investments are made in the critical areas of improving financial literacy, building technology and innovation skills, and creating a new breed of policymakers in order to see the implementation of better policies. By reinforcing these priorities, agriculture’s role as a creator of jobs and driver of economic growth will become increasingly recognised and respected.

 

*Agrolution via http://www.bizcommunity.africa/Article/410/358/166892.html
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“Consolidation in horticulture to continue”

Frank de Hek, Oaklins’ horticulture specialist, shares some high level industry intelligence in a new edition of the company’s newsletter, Spot On.

“Oaklins has advised on numerous mergers and acquisitions in the horticultural sector in the last 15 years. At first, small consolidation plays and family succession were the key drivers. Then the horticultural market went through a globalization wave which is now being followed by another consolidation.

M&A in the horticultural market shows similar patterns as the edible seed market 20 years ago when big platform companies like Monsanto shaped the global market. Now the key drivers are economies of scale, new breeding technologies and access to distribution channels. Valuations are favorable and, next to three to five platform consolidators, several private equity funds are actively looking to create new consolidation platforms.”

These trends also emerged in the agricultural crop and pharma industries decades ago when the same market drivers resulted in several consolidation waves. Today, there are just a handful of companies that dominate these industries.

To put this into perspective, the market share of the top three agricultural crop companies has risen from 5% to more than 60% in the last 35 years, as shown in the graph below. These top three seed companies are Monsanto (USA), DuPont’s subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred (Canada) and Syngenta (Switzerland).

Frank de Hek: “We now see the same happening in the horticultural sector, especially in breeding, where players are consolidating to increase their distribution power and reach economies of scale to cope with changing market conditions. We expect consolidation to continue, with market players actively considering joining forces with a large industry party or being of an active consolidator themselves.”

On the mid-term, Oaklins expects 5 to 8 global horticultural breeding platforms with a broad product portfolio to dominate the sector. A select number of single-crop breeders will continue to be successful as well, with key success factors being critical amongst others mass and global activities. The transformation and consolidation in the sector will be facilitated by private equity firms, whom are actively looking to create new consolidation platforms.

 

*Agrolution via http://www.floraldaily.com/article/11320/Consolidation-in-horticulture-to-continue

 

AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS URGED TO ATTRACT YOUTH INTO AGRICULTURE

youth-farmers-in-Kenya.jpg

African governments and other stakeholders have been urged to encourage the youth to embrace agriculture and to let them understand that they could make money from the sector and its value-chains.

Mr Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for Africa, who made the call, said there was also the need to support the youth to engage massively in agriculture and agri-business through right policy environments, access to skills, innovations and right technologies.

“We must address the challenges that disenfranchise the African youth from agriculture such as low productivity, hardship, low levels of mechanisation and modernisation, lack of rural infrastructure and insufficient local processing and value addition,” he said.

Mr Tijani, who was speaking at the launch of the FAO special programme for “Youth Employment: enabling decent agriculture and agri-business jobs” in Accra, underscored the need for motivation through linkages to financial services that did not require collateral the youth cannot provide, rural infrastructure services to facilitate market linkages and enterprise development and partnership.

The workshop attracted youth representatives from government, private sector, and civil society from a number of African countries.

Africa has a population of almost 200 million people from 15 to 24 years, which represents the youth at large untapped reservoir for the growth of the agri-food sector.

Mr Tijani said the youth needed practical business model on selected value chains, with examples of budgeted business plan with cost-benefit analysis, and evidence based advocacy.

He said the youth as drivers of change in their communities, organisations and countries knew what they wanted to contribute to and benefit from the agricultural sector.

“Youth can be powerful drivers of change to lift themselves and others out of poverty, hunger and malnutrition.”

Mr Tijani called for support to the youth in agriculture and value chains to be tailored on the needs and priorities of different youth groups such as thelow skilled commercially oriented youth and tertiary educated youth.

The Youth Empowerment: enabling decentagriculture and agri-business job” programme will support the region in harnessing its huge demographic dividend, while contributing to rejuvenation of the ageing farming population.

Beyond farm jobs, the programme will also explore the potential for job creation and rural non-farming economic activities and in food value chains, agri-business development and their related support services.

It will also support the implementation of declarations that will emanate from the 2017 AU year of “Harnessing demographic Dividend through investments in Youth’ as they relate to empowering youth in agriculture and agricultural value chains.

Currently, FAO is implementing more than 10 projects focused on youth employment in the Africa Region.

However, most of them are relatively small to medium size technical co-operation projectsthat are contributing to solve specific technical issues or supporting the development of a particular policy instrument.

Dr Alex Ariho, the Chief Executive Officer, African Agribusiness Incubators Network, said investing in the future of the youth and encouraging them to grow their own businesses was key in dealing with the unemployment situation on the continent.

He said the youth needed access to technology and innovation as well as motivation from successful start-ups.

Michael Opeyemi Ige, Executive Director, CAYF, said youth unemployment was a ticking bomb and that there was the need for governments in Africa to make agriculture more appealing to the youth.

“We must restructure and rebrand agriculture in ways that will make it enticing for the youth,” he said.

Mr Klutse Kudomor, National Co-ordinator of the national Youth in Agriculture Programme, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said there were many investment opportunities in the agricultural value chain that government was keen on supporting the youth to undertake.

“It is in this direction that the government has launched various agriculture initiatives with incentive schemes to ensure that the youth are gainfully employed,” he said.

Ms Unami Mpofu, Senior Programme Officer, NEPAD called for collaboration from stakeholders to address the challenges and to ensure that goals and objectives of the African Agenda 2063 were achieved.

Source: GNA

*Agrolution via https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2017/05/11/african-governments-urged-to-attract-youth-into-agriculture

 

18 amazing business ideas you can start in 2017

sweet spot of agriculture

Have you ever tried agribusiness before? With good and thorough research agribusiness can generate a good income for you and your family in Kenya.

There are numerous opportunities and avenues to invest in agriculture. However, when you finish reading this article it’s advisable to pick an agribusiness idea or venture to invest in which is an intersection of your natural inclination (or disposition) and profitability (growing market demand). Do your research first and invest smart. When you finally decide which agribusiness to invest make sure you start small and grow from there. this will help you learn from your mistakes and get experience.

  1. Organic Fertilizer: The use of chemical fertilizer on crops in Kenya has been known to cause groundwater contamination and leave traces of toxic chemicals in food that aren’t safe for human consumption. Organic fertilizers which are well-packaged and free of harmful chemicals would be well received by farmers and food enthusiasts.
  2. Animal Feed Protein Source: In animal feeds, protein is one of the major ingredients needed for good and rapid growth. The animal feed industry in Kenya is open to a disruptive animal protein source that is cheap, nutritious and readily available.
  3. Greenhouse Farming: Greenhouse farming especially in urban areas in Kenya is booming. Greenhouses are very efficient and effective structures which make use of small space, controlled environment and limited nutrient to grow large number of vegetable and fruits. To cut down your costs you can use wood to construct your greenhouse.  You can easily setup a greenhouse farm beside your house to grow tomatoes and other crops to sell to your neighbours.
  4. Flowers: Fresh flowers are also another good agribusiness idea in Kenya. As we all know, fresh flowers are used for many event decoration purposes and also for home decoration purposes. You can easily make money by growing flowers.
  5. Cooking Oils: Cooking oil is mainly gotten from groundnut and palm kernel yet there are many other crops which have oil in them such as okra, pumpkin, avocado etc. You can harness and extract the oils from these crops and package them as cooking oil to be sold in markets and shops in Kenya. Many of them can add unique smell and flavor to our everyday food.
  6. Cassava Farming: Cassava is one of the most important and regular staple food for Africans. The market for starch in Kenya and other neighboring countries in Africa is huge. But the lack of quality cassava processing facilities within the country is a huge business opportunity that you can take advantage of.
  7. Sorghum: You can also invest in sorghum, which has become a very important industrial and household crop. This is a one of the very good agribusiness ideas in Kenya that isn’t being exploited
  8. Food processing and storage: This is also one of the good agribusiness ideas. Most of the food produced in Kenya end up as waste because of lack of storage facilities. This is a one of the very good agribusiness ideas that isn’t being exploited
  9. Soya bean and soya-related products:  These are also in high demand in Kenya. Soya-based foods, edible oil, and animal feeds can be your source of agribusiness venture. It’s in high demand and promises greater ROI. This is a one of the very good agribusiness ideas that isn’t being exploited
  10. Vegetables: We all eat vegetables. These are the most common and highly consumed food item in Kenya and the world. So, starting a vegetable farm is one of the simplest businesses in the entire world which gives a good profit margin. This is a one of the very good agribusiness ideas that isn’t being exploited.
  11. Hatchery Business: Another good agribusiness idea for young entrepreneurs is to start a hatchery for the purpose of strictly hatching eggs for sale to farmers. You can hatch eggs of broilers and layer birds. This is a very good agribusiness idea for young Kenyans to consider.
  12. Dairy Farming: Dairy farming is considered to be one of the most profitable agribusiness ideas in Kenya. In addition to milk and yoghurt production, a huge quantity of manure is also produced from dairy farming. This is a one of the very good agribusiness ideas that isn’t being exploited.
  13. Aqua farming: There are several options available to you such as Tilapia farming, catfish farming etc. This is a one of the very good agribusiness ideas in Kenya that isn’t being exploited.
  14. Value Addition to fruits: Fruits like strawberry, orange, grapes etc. can also be processed and turned into items like jam and jelly. This process is not so complex and it can be started on a small scale with little capital.
  15. Groundnut Processing: Groundnut processing business can be started with minimal investment. The processed ground nuts have greater value in the market and it is used in animal feeds (groundnut cake) and the production of soaps, biodiesel, insecticides etc.
  16. Flour Milling: You can also start a flour milling business in Kenya. With a good supply of maize, cassava and wheat, you can process them into flour which is used in making bread, biscuit and other food items that people consume a lot.
  17. Broker: You can also become an agricultural produce broker where you link producers of agricultural items with people willing to buy those produce.
  18. Livestock Feeds: Livestock feed production is a small scale manufacturing business that you can start. By purchasing a few processing equipment, having access to feed ingredients and raw materials, you can begin processing and bagging feeds used in rearing livestock.

 

 * Agrolution via http://graduatefarmer.co.ke/2017/06/01/18-amazing-business-ideas-you-can-start-in-2017

 

Greenhouses in the Ethiopian desert

According to a recent study published by the University of Aalto, Ethiopia is one of the countries with an insufficient and insecure supply of food. The extreme drought in the country, due to the weather conditions, and the unsuccessful strategy for the supply of food products are the main causes for this.
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However, a social organization called Roots Up may have found the key to tackling food shortages by creating a greenhouse that turns dew water into a resource suitable for irrigation. In addition to offering a possible solution to this problem, it does so with its own production system, which could help alleviate Ethiopia’s dependence on foreign food suppliers.
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Greenhouses Ethiopía 1
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This information, originally published on the website Ecoinventos, notes that dew water could help producers grow fresh vegetables “even during times of drought.” The greenhouse has a dew collector that helps collect this water, which would otherwise be lost in the atmosphere. Thus, growers can produce drinking water for both irrigation and human consumption.
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“When temperatures rise with the midday sun, the greenhouse causes the water to evaporate and rise. At nightfall, the upper part of the greenhouse, which opens by pulling the cords tied to a latch, exposes the water drops collected to the cold air. These droplets cool and condense, falling into a storage cistern, “making it possible to use the water,” according to the information of the portal specialised in agricultural technology.
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Greenhouses Ethiopía 2
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* Agrolution via http://www.hortidaily.com/article/34298/Greenhouses-in-the-Ethiopian-desert

Solar energy powers vegetable farms in the desert

With scorching summer temperatures and little rainfall, the barren scrublands around the port of Aqaba in Jordan, one of the world’s most arid countries, might seem ill suited to cultivating cucumbers.

Yet a Norwegian company is setting up a solar-powered, 20 hectare facility that promises to grow a variety of vegetables without wasting a drop of fresh water.

vegetable farms in the desert

“We take what we have enough of – sunlight, carbon dioxide, seawater and desert – to produce what we need more of – food water and energy,” said Joakim Hauge, chief executive of the Sahara Forest Project (SFP).

Harnessing abundant resources to generate scarce ones will be key to feeding a growing global population, set to reach 9 billion by 2050, without damaging the environment or accelerating climate change, he said.

Food production must rise by about 60 percent by 2050 to generate enough for everyone to eat, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Agriculture already accounts for 70 percent of global fresh water use, while the food sector is responsible for more than 20 percent of planet-warming emissions and 30 percent of world energy consumption.

“We can no longer make solutions that come at the expense of other sectors,” said Hauge. “There is a need for a more integrated approach”.

The Aqaba complex, set to open in the summer, evaporates salt water piped from the nearby Red Sea to cool greenhouses, creating conditions for crops to grow all year round.

Sea water is also desalinated to generate salt and fresh water for irrigation, while vapour from greenhouses is used to humidify surrounding patches of parched land so plants can grow.

Agriculture of tomorrow?

SFP said a pilot project in the Gulf state of Qatar generated cucumber yields comparable to those of European farms. Plans are underway to expand operations to Tunisia.

But FAO experts said high costs involved limited the potential of such projects to ramp up food production on a global scale.

“You need a lot of energy and a lot of money so…the question may arise whether the same resources could be put to better use,” said FAO natural resources officer Alessandro Flammini.

To be financially viable, production must focus on high-value crops, like cucumbers and tomatoes, which poor countries might find cheaper to import, said Flammini, who analysed the Qatar pilot for a 2014 FAO report.

“It’s an interesting concept for fulfilling local needs and especially in terms of food independence and to meet the demand of a niche market,” he said.

The Aqaba complex had a $3.7 million budget and received financial support from Norway, the European Union and other investors, according to SFP.

Hauge said besides producing food, the complex, which will include a laboratory and research facilities, would produce side benefits by greening arid areas and creating jobs.

“We believe that this is part of the agriculture of tomorrow,” the biologist-turned-entrepreneur told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

From Australia to Somalia

Several other companies are employing similar technologies in other arid corners of the world.

In 2016, UK-based agribusiness Sundrop Farms Holding opened a vast greenhouse for tomato farming in the Australian outback near Port Augusta, 300 km north of Adelaide.

The facility runs on energy mostly produced by a 115 metre solar tower that draws sunlight from 23 000 mirrors surrounding it.

“Traditional agriculture is wasteful in terms of water and fossil fuels. In addition, unprotected crops are at the mercy of the elements, causing gaps in supply, quality issues and price spikes,” Sundrop’s CEO Philipp Saumweber said in an email.

The company has signed a 10-year contract to supply Australian supermarket chain Coles with truss tomatoes and received investments of about $100 million from private equity firm KKR & Co, according to a 2014 statement.

“While the capital expenditure required to build our farms is slightly more expensive due to its cutting-edge nature, we reap the benefits of this initial investment in the long run through savings of fossil inputs,” said Saumweber.

Around seven thousand miles away, in sunbaked and drought-hit Somaliland, another British-based venture, Seawater Greenhouse, is setting up a pilot facility aimed at making high-tech greenhouse production more affordable.

“We have eliminated using fans,” said British inventor Charlie Paton, a former business partner of Saumweber, who pioneered the use of solar energy and salt water for irrigation in the 1990s.

“We designed [the greenhouse] to be cool by exploiting the prevailing wind. So it’s a wind-cooled greenhouse,” he said in a phone interview.

The one-hectare complex, which received funding from the British government, cost about $100 000, he said, adding he expected it to produce around 30 tonnes of tomatoes a year and 16 litres of drinking water a day for irrigation and livestock.

Paton said he hoped the greenhouse, which employs mostly local staff, would serve as a hub for expansion across the Horn of Africa.

“The region gets a lot of humanitarian aid and that’s arguably detrimental because if you give free food to people you put farmers out of business,” he said.

“It has more chances of success if people can make money out of it.”

* Agrolution via http://www.iol.co.za/business-report/energy/solar-energy-powers-vegetable-farms-in-the-desert-8433313

 

The Benefits of Fertigation and Irrigation Control

 

indoor hydroponic greenhouse with fertigation and irrigation control system

Irrigation – the process of artificially applying water to plants – has been in practice since as early as 6000 BC.

There have been many advances in irrigation since then, and today’s technologies have made it easier than ever to control water flow as well as fertilizers, nutrients, and other chemicals.

  1. What is Irrigation Control?
  2. What is Fertigation?
  3. Volumetric Injectors
  4. Controlling Injection with Electrical Conductivity
  5. Combining Fertilizer Injection with pH (Alkalinity) Control
  6. The Future of Fertigation and Irrigation Control

What is Irrigation Control?

Irrigation control is a technique used to manage an irrigation system. Irrigation control systems manage electric valves that regulate the flow of water through piping systems. Automatic irrigation controllers allow water to flow to specific crops, or zones, based on a triggers such as time, soil conditions, solar radiation accumulation, environmental controls, and other algorithms. This type of automation can be complex, since water must be applied to plants in specific volumes over varying amounts of time.

What is Fertigation?

Fertigation is the process of running fertilizer through irrigation water. The practice of running plant nutrients through irrigation systems has increased dramatically over the last 20 years. As careful water management and sustainability become more common issues, the need for high yields of superior-quality crops has increased. Because of this, more growers are exploring the advantages of combining their water and fertilizer applications.

The Benefit of a Fertigation System

Hanna HI10000 fertigation system

Fertigation increases efficiency by delivering water and nutrients directly into the root zone, where they’re most needed. This results in the need for less fertilizer and water. Other potential advantages of fertigation include flexibility, saving on labor and energy costs, and the ability to add nutrients that may be otherwise difficult to apply.

Properly automated commercial greenhouses, hydroponics operations, and agricultural fields will reduce their costs for chemicals and labor while increasing crop yields and health. Hanna has three customizable options to fit any size facility. The Hanna HI10000 Fertilizer Injection System can accommodate flow rates from 1 gallon per minute (GPM) to 350 GPM (or 5 GPM-750 GPM with an expanded manifold) while the HI5000 and HI2500 are available for growers with smaller operations.

This level of flexibility coupled with remote access allows the entire fertigation process to be monitored and controlled from anywhere in the world, saving you time and giving you more freedom.

Using a Fertigation System

Fertilizers have been applied through a wide range of irrigation systems for many years and are the most commonly injected chemicals. Many of the older methods required significant worker contact and trial-and-error techniques. With the introduction of better technology, applying pesticides has become more wide spread as a necessary compliment to fertilizer injection.

Drip and micro-irrigation, prevalent in greenhouses and hydroponic environments, have a characteristic not shared by other irrigation methods; fertigation is not an option but is actually necessary. Fertigation provides the only truly efficient way to apply fertilizers physically to the crop root zone. On high value crops, such as lettuce, tomatoes, and commercially produced potted plants, the level of fertigation management for achieving high yields and qualities exceed what is found with other irrigation methods.

Volumetric Injectors

greenhouse with fertigation system

Volumetric injectors take a small portion of concentrated fertilizer solution from a stock tank and inject it into the water line. For every part of stock solution in the system, there are x parts of water, where x is determined by the injector ratio.

For example, with a 1:100 ratio, one part of stock solution is mixed with 99 parts of water, for a total of 100 parts of final solution. The size of the stock tank varies, and it could be as small as five gallons or as large as 2,000 gallons. Often ratios are expressed as percent. For example, a 1:100 ratio equals a 1%  solution.

Volumetric injectors have been used successfully for a very long time; the technology is old but reliable. However, most injectors are flow driven and don’t take into account the actual chemistry of the irrigation water. In essence they are blind to the actual concentrations of the various fertilizers being injected.

Controlling Injection with Electrical Conductivity

Electrical conductivity (EC) is a measure of a solution’s ability to conduct an electrical current. The conductivity of a solution is largely dependent on the concentration of TDS in it. The relationship between ppm, TDS and EC is usually a factor  between 0.65 and 0.7, depending on your fertilizer formulation.

With a 0.65 factor, a reading of 1 milliSiemen/centimeter (mS/cm) would equal 650 ppm TDS. Most growers use the EC reading exclusively as charted below. Most soluble fertilizers, when dissolved in the irrigation stream, produce an EC reading that’s directly proportional to the concentration of fertilizer present and is expressed as ppm nitrogen.

Fertigation driven by EC measurements lets growers manage crop nutrients at a level that’s nearly impossible to achieve with conventional volumetric practices. The results can include higher yields and better crop quality. Even just a 10% increase in production will translate to increased profits, higher energy efficiency, and more money saved.

Chart: ppm nitrogen concentration

Combining Fertilizer Injection with pH (Alkalinity) Control

Acids have been and always will be an excellent tool for growers. Acids help you gain better control of your irrigation water’s alkalinity (mostly bicarbonates and carbonates), as well as the pH of your growing media. Once the role of alkalinity is understood, you may consider the following step to control alkalinity using acids through your injector system.

Phosphoric, Sulfuric, Nitric, and Citric Acids and When to Use Them

The most commonly available acids are phosphoric, sulfuric, nitric, and citric. The most effective and widely used acid is sulfuric acid; however, this is also one of the most hazardous.

Each type of acid has its pros and cons. For low amounts of alkalinity removal, phosphoric acid may be your acid of choice. However, you need to be careful when using this acid because phosphorus levels will increase. Nitric acid is theoretically ideal because it adds nitrate nitrogen, but it fumes and is highly oxidizing, making it very difficult to handle. Citric acid is a weak organic acid and a solid, making it safer than the other three; but it is much less effective, and therefore more expensive to use.

Once you choose an acid to use, make sure your injector can handle the task. Not only is it important that the materials be acid resistant, the controller must be able to accurately control and maintain a fixed pH over a wide flow range.

The Future of Fertigation and Irrigation Control

The Hanna HI10000 Fertigator & Irrigation Control System

HI10000 Fertigation System

Over 200 Hanna Fertigator systems have been installed across the United States since 2005. Many of these units have been in service for over ten years, with their range of applications spanning hydroponics, living walls, commercial potted plant producers, and high tech growing facilities.

The Hanna HI10000 Fertilizer Injection System precisely monitors and controls fertilizer concentrations and pH for all types of hydroponics, greenhouse, and field agricultural applications. The HI10000 is also a complete irrigation control system with 32 valve (zone) capabilities.

Unlike flow-driven systems of the past, the Hanna Fertigation System continuously measures the actual EC and pH of the flow-through, and precisely adjusts the concentration of fertilizer into the system. The Hanna Fertigation System is a bypass system which will not interfere with your main line flow, and therefore does not impede line flow or pressure.

*Agrolution via http://blog.hannainst.com/fertigation-benefits

Advantages of drip irrigation systems

drip-irrigation

Precise and regulated application of irrigation water and plant nutrients at low pressure and frequent intervals through drippers/emitters directly into the root zone of plant with the help of close network of pipes is known as drip irrigation system.

Advantages

  • Increase in production & productivity.
  • Improves quality and ensure early maturity of the crops.
  • Water Saving up to 40% – 70%.
  • Controls weed growth, saving of fertilizer (30%) and labour cost (10%).
  • Fertigation / Chemigation can be made efficiently.
  • Control diseases.
  • Use of saline water is possible.
  • Soil erosion is eliminated.
  • Suitable for uneven / undulating land.
  • High Water Use Efficiency.
Major Components of Drip Irrigation System
Pump station. By-pass assembly
Control valves Filtration system
Fertilizer tank /Venturi Pressure gauge
Mains / Sub-mains Laterals
Emitting devices Micro tubes
Crops Suitable for Drip Irrigation System
1. Orchard Crops Grapes, Banana, Pomegranate, Orange,
Citrus, Mango, Lemon, Custard Apple, Sapota,
Guava, Pineapple, Coconut, Cashewnut,
Papaya, Aonla, Litchi, Watermelon etc.
2. Vegetables Tomato, Chilly, Capsicum, Cabbage,
Cauliflower, Onion, Okra, Brinjal, Bitter Gourd,
Ridge Gourd, Cucumber, Peas, Spinach,
Pumpkin etc.
3. Cash Crops Sugarcane, Cotton. Arecanut, Strawberry etc.
4. Flowers Rose, Carnation, Gerbera, Anthurium,
Orchids, Jasmine, Dahilia, Marigold etc.
5. Plantation Tea, Rubber, Coffee, Coconut etc.
6. Spices Turmeric, Cloves, Mint etc,
7. Oil Seed Sunflower, Oil palm, Groundnut etc.
8. Forest Crops Teakwood, Bamboo etc.
Response of Different Crops to Drip Irrigation System
Crops Water saving (%) Increase in yield (%)
Banana 45 52
Cauliflower 68 70
Chilly 68 28
Cucumber 56 48
Grapes 48 23
Ground nut 40 152
Pomegranate 45 45
Sugarcane 50 99
Sweet lime 61 50
Tomato 42 60

* Via http://graduatefarmer.co.ke/2017/01/29/advantages-of-drip-irrigation-systems/

Can hi-tech greenhouses feed the world?

In a remote corner of the Australian outback, where temperatures climb above 40 degrees Celsius in summer and fresh water is scarce, Philipp Saumweber is growing vine-ripened tomatoes.

Inside a space-age greenhouse, the former Goldman Sachs banker turned chief executive of Sundrop Farms is producing 16,000 tonnes of truss tomatoes a year. The 20-hectare facility, which he believes is the future of farming, is powered by a concentrated solar thermal plant, which generates most of the energy required to cool the plants and desalinate seawater to irrigate the crops.

“We can play a small part in solving the problem the world faces in feeding an ever growing global population,” says Mr Saumweber, slicing a juicy tomato and handing it over for a taste test.

“You don’t see many others growing crops on the edge of a desert.”

With the global population forecast to rise to 9bn by 2050, growing enough food at low cost is one of the world’s most urgent and complex political problems.

Last year, one in nine of the world’s 7.4bn population were undernourished, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN. In sub-Saharan Africa the rate is far higher: almost a quarter of people go hungry due to the combination of harsh climate, lack of fresh water, poor land, war and poverty.

 

* Agrolution via http://www.hortidaily.com/article/30381/Can-hi-tech-greenhouses-feed-the-world

 

Five reasons to use radiant heating

For many, when planning and designing a greenhouse, heating is a factor that is often overlooked. A traditional forced-air heater and thermostat are all that one really needs, but is this method of greenhouse heating really the best solution? For commercial operations or greenhouses located in areas with more mild winters, the answer is often yes. However, for hobby growers or those in Northern climates, there is a more cost-effective means of heating which provide both plants and growers with a number of benefits: radiant heating.

Radiant heating systems work by radiating heat from a hot surface to cooler surroundings. In greenhouse applications, piping is installed under the structure’s foundation. These pipes are then connected to a hot water heater. When the hot water runs through the system, the air between the greenhouse floor and the structure’s foundation is heated. As hot air rises naturally, the heat can then be felt above the floor and radiates throughout the greenhouse space. This application is ideal for heating an entire greenhouse or for use as under bench heating to supply heat directly to a plants root mat.

Even, Uniform Heat
Perhaps the number one benefit of this heating system is that it provides gentle, uniform heat throughout the greenhouse. Even heat distribution results in fewer cool spots, meaning that more heat remains at the root mat instead of sporadically spreading throughout the greenhouse to fill cold spots. With steady heat, plants are able to thrive, making it possible to keep plants alive throughout the entire year or to start crops earlier in the season.

Energy Savings
Radiant heating is more energy-efficient than alternative methods, such as baseboard and forced-air systems. Traditional forced-air heaters heat from the ceiling down. This creates problems with air circulation and often results in the majority of warm air becoming stuck or escaping at the roof of the greenhouse. Baseboard heaters can heat a space too quickly and carry the risk of overheating crops. As these heaters sit at the bottom of the greenhouse, if crops are placed on a standard height bench or display rack, they may end up being too close to the heat source. Radiant heat systems supply heat to the space surrounding the crops, keeping heat levels uniform at any height.

Year-round production
With uniform levels of heat throughout the greenhouse, there is no limit on the growing season. This gives growers the advantage of bringing out-of-season crops to market, leading to higher demand and increased revenue. This also provides an opportunity to expand to new markets with the appeal of fresh, reliable products year-round. This can bring in new clients, such as local restaurants and grocery stores.

Easy to use
Once a radiant heat system has been installed, there is little maintenance involved and use of the system is very easy. As radiant heat works by supplying warm air to cold space, warm air is distributed evenly throughout the greenhouse. If enough warm air is present in a single location, the heat will radiate to a cooler section of the greenhouse to keep the levels stable. This prevents the worry of overheating plants, while maintaining a constant and stable temperature for the crops to thrive.

Customizable Options
These systems are built by design, meaning that design, application and more are completely customizable. Radiant heating can be installed under a greenhouse foundation to supply heat to the entire greenhouse, or can be installed under benches, offering heat directly to the plants root mat. If used under a concrete table or foundation, installing TekFoil Reflective Insulation can help reduce heat transfer loss. TekFoil Insulation helps to reduce heat loss through radiant heat transfer by up to 97 percent, meaning that small amounts of heat are used more efficiently, reducing operating costs and energy requirements.

* Agrolution via http://www.hortidaily.com/article/31092/Five-reasons-to-use-radiant-heating