Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture is involved in the Middle East setting up research centers in the field of water saving with the aim to test and demonstrate water-saving technology under local conditions. The technology for soilless cultivation with possible recirculation of drain water is an important topic in these centers.
Water is not only used for the plants though, a larger part is used for cooling, evaporative cooling. The picture shows a pad and fan greenhouse which functions on this principle. Due to the relatively low humidity this form of cooling works well but the water consumption is high. The cooling demand in these greenhouses can be reduced by decreasing the solar radiation entering, but since the photosynthetic process also relates to solar radiation it will reduce the production as well. The application of special covering materials with a spectral property which reflect part of the solar radiation not used for the photosynthesis process can be considered.
Still cooling will be needed so the only alternative being mechanical cooling or air conditioning is considered. Obviously this type of cooling consumes more energy, but it also gives way to a higher production of a better quality.
The technical and economic feasibility of these innovations as they are applied in the Middle East is the main focus at these centres. But also the practical application is taken into consideration specially in the area of needed expertise. The application of innovative technology without the proper expertise, is like selling a Ferrari to someone who has never driven a car.