Doha: Qatar University’s (QU) Solar Greenhouse project is funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), National Priority Research Program (NPRP), in collaboration with Department of Agricultural Research of the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME).
During the past 15 years, Qatar witnessed rapid economic and exponential population growth. Thus, the research and development projects of Protected Agriculture is essential for healthy population and are key to enhance food security.
Commenting on the Solar Greenhouse project, Dr. Saud Ghani, lead researcher of Greenhouse project and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at College of Engineering, said: “Qatar has set food security as a priority for the country and set out a commitment to sustain about 70 percent self-sufficiency on greenhouse vegetables. Achieving sustainable food security was further ascertained by the ongoing geopolitical tensions and the imposed blockade on the country.”
This project developed a thermally insulated greenhouse that allows the entry of optimum solar radiation levels through negative linear Fresnel lenses located in its roof. The lenses distribute the solar radiation over the plant rows. The performance of the proposed greenhouse in terms of providing the required levels of solar radiation for plant growth and the reduction in cooling load were assessed using ray tracing simulations, cooling load calculations and field trials in Nabati farm.
Dr. Saud added: “The greenhouse prototype is currently under field tests for yield assessments at the Nabati farm in Mekanees, south of Doha. For the last two summers (2018, 2019), the field tests have proven very promising and the Ministry is looking forward to develop Qatar’s first agriculture greenhouse standards using this prototype as a blue print.”
Dr. Ali Al Kharboutli, consultant to the Agricultural Research Department, MME, said: “The research depends on the use of a number of technologies that are based on the Fourth Industrial Revolution 4.0 and its transformation into an integral part of the agricultural community by developing the greenhouse design, manufacturing, cooling and lighting systems.”
Hamad Saket Al Shammari, Director of the Agricultural Research Department, said in order to enhance sustainable food security, the Agricultural Research Department actively engaged with the College of Engineering at Qatar University to develop greenhouses suitable for the Qatari local weather conditions and market.
“The design of these agriculture greenhouses was carried using the latest technologies in the field of engineering and agriculture. Where the Agricultural Research Department, represented by the MME research team, carried the required field tests, in agricultural terms, to assess the technologies developed by the College of Engineering.
“The Ministry of Municipality and Environment is offering the required agriculture land needed for the construction of the developed greenhouse and provides other agricultural resources needed such as irrigation water, power, seeds, fertilizers and chemicals. The new greenhouse is considered to be a quantum leap in the field of protected agriculture, in which it is expected that production will be increased in quantity and quality while reducing the operating costs of energy and water consumption,” Al Shammari added.
Masoud Jarallah Al Marri, Director of the Food Security Department at MME, highlighted the importance of this project and its effective role in supporting the Ministry’s objectives towards achieving food security in Qatar, by achieving stable production of agricultural crops throughout the year.