This Progressive Ladakhi Greenhouse Is Letting Farmers Develop Tomatoes in Freezing Winter- Shekhawati Rides

In Ladakh, the provision of regionally grown modern greens is generally restricted to summer season season months given how the world is characterised by extreme variations in temperature, notably in the middle of the prolonged and harsh winter season when temperatures hit as little as -30°C.
(Above image of a farmers contained within the Ladakh Greenhouse rising tomatoes)

These prolonged winters cut back the cropping season to barely 4 or 5 months in a 12 months. Totally different parts embrace low precipitation largely inside the kind of heavy snowfall, extreme wind velocity, sparse plant density, skinny surroundings with extreme volumes of UV radiation and a fragile ecosystem.

As a consequence, most farmers pursue single-cropping, whereas double cropping is barely attainable in parts of Ladakh, which fall beneath the altitude of three,000 metres above indicate sea diploma.

The scarcity of regionally grown greens necessitates buying them from outdoor the world through gadgets vans that come from Manali (480 km) and Srinagar (420 km) and cargo planes from Delhi or Chandigarh the place the freight costs sometimes go as a lot as Rs 110 per kg.

Prices had been hovering so extreme in the middle of the winter season that in 2019 the Leh district administration wanted to artificially restore the retail price of latest greens like tomato (Rs 110/kg), okra (Rs 130/kg), cauliflower (Rs 110/kg) and spinach (Rs 110/kg), merely to name plenty of. Really, according to a market survey organised in February 2019, it was found that modern greens are virtually 3 occasions costlier in Leh than they’re in Delhi in the middle of the winter season.

To cope with this important concern of the Ladakhi of us, researchers on the Defence Institute of Extreme Altitude Evaluation (DIHAR) led by senior scientist Dr Tsering Stobdan have developed a model new model of the Ladakh Greenhouse, a passive picture voltaic greenhouse, for native farmers.

“We studied the positives and drawbacks of typical greenhouses, which are used extensively in Ladakh. Accordingly, 4 major modifications had been made. We modified the polyethylene sheet with a triple layer polycarbonate sheet. This ends in over 7-8 diploma Celsius enhance in temperature at night in the middle of the winter season since polycarbonate has rather a lot higher insulating properties. Second, the unbaked mud bricks had been modified with stone partitions as a result of the latter has additional heat absorbing functionality. The heat absorbed all through day time is launched once more into the greenhouse at night. Third, now we’ve constructed the greenhouse three ft beneath the underside diploma. Subsequently, the underside heat helps in holding the greenhouse warmth in winter. Lastly, we standardised the scale, prime and width of the greenhouse,” says Dr Stobdan, speaking to The Larger India.

The three completely completely different standardised Ladakh Greenhouse Fashions embrace:
1) Enterprise: 90x27x9 ft (measurement x Width x Prime) — approximate worth: Rs 9.5 lakh
2) Medium: 60x24x8.5 ft — approximate worth: Rs 5 lakhs
3) Dwelling: 32x18x8 ft — approximate worth: Rs 3 lakh

“The ultimate notion is that the smaller the greenhouse the upper is its heat retention functionality. However, we found that the reverse is true. Merely hand operated ventilators in these newly designed and developed greenhouses make it easy to regulate the temperature all through summer season season months. Contained within the Ladakh Greenhouse, the utmost temperature recorded is 45 diploma Celsius in summer season season months. The underside temperature recorded in peak winter months is 1 diploma Celsius. That’s the reason why tomatoes are rising contained within the greenhouse. Moreover, it’s easy to perform. There could also be not even a single digital gadget that farmers must make use of proper right here. It’s solely a passive picture voltaic greenhouse,” explains Dr. Stobdan.

“DIHAR developed the know-how, nonetheless they’ve transferred it to the Division of Agriculture, UT Ladakh. The arrange of the Ladakh Greenhouse is being completed by the division. We’re providing farmers with 75% subsidy for the event of this greenhouse. To this point, now we’ve put in about 100 such greenhouses for farmers in Ladakh, which embrace the Medium sort one and for dwelling use,” says Tashi Tsetan, the Chief Agricultural Officer of UT (Union Territory) Ladakh.

“All through the arrange course of, the farmer’s job is barely to assemble the partitions. The division has to supply cladding provides (polycarbonate sheets), physique, door and window and ventilators, and so forth,” Tsetan offers.

Ladakh Greenhouse coated in snow all through peak winter months

Evolution of Greenhouses

Nonetheless, this isn’t the first mannequin of a greenhouse to emerge in Ladakh. The first such greenhouse (glasshouse) in Ladakh was prepare in 1964 at DIHAR, which was beforehand typically referred to as Topic Evaluation Laboratory, for rising greens all through winter months. When this didn’t work as a consequence of logistics and extreme costs, they conceived a low worth passive picture voltaic greenhouse throughout the late Sixties, the place greens had been ground in trenches coated with polyethylene sheets to forestall crops from getting frozen in the middle of the prolonged and harsh winter season.

Given the dearth of a retention wall above ground diploma and openness, the produce fell prey to stray animals. Making points worse, the pace of adoption of this greenhouse was low. To cope with this, the first mannequin of the Ladakhi Greenhouse was designed with mud brick partitions on three sides (north, east and west), polyethylene cowl on the south going by way of side and a roof on the side of the north wall. This innovation was trendy for its higher heat retention abilities, allowing farmers in Ladakh to develop leafy greens like lettuce, spinach and coriander all through winter.

By way of the years, completely different companies and organisations like GERES (Groupe Energies Renouvelables, Environnement et Solidarités), a French non-profit, Ladakh Environment and Properly being Organisation (LEHO), Ladakh Renewable Energy Development Firm (LREDA) and Sher-e-Kashmir School of Agriculture Sciences and Experience-Kashmir (SKUAST-Okay) have embody their modifications to the distinctive Ladakhi Greenhouse model.

However, completely different concerns emerged with the first iteration of the Ladakhi Greenhouse. Positive greens like tomatoes, capsicum, cauliflower, cabbage, pumpkin and broccoli couldn’t develop resulting from freezing temperatures at night contained within the greenhouse all through winter months. All through summer season season months, there was the issue of maximum heat know-how contained within the greenhouse with temperatures inside rising to a whopping 64 ranges Celsius. Farmers each would take away the cladding supplies or not use the greenhouse altogether in the middle of the summer season season season.

Moreover, the polyethylene sheet used on this greenhouse wouldn’t ultimate larger than 5 years resulting from extreme wind speeds, heavy snowfall, and completely different extreme conditions and required each altering or mounted repairs. Lastly, these greenhouses wouldn’t ultimate larger than 10 years.

The older iteration of the passive picture voltaic greenhouse

New and Improved Greenhouse

“We started engaged on this greenhouse in 2014. It took us three years to develop the first helpful prototype. Our requirements for a helpful greenhouse is rising tomatoes, a extraordinarily temperature-sensitive crop all through winter seasons with none exterior heat/power provide. In December 2017 we grew tomatoes contained within the greenhouse for the first time. The model new design was then studied further in the middle of the winter and summer season season for rising a variety of greens in Leh Ladakh. Our worthwhile trials led to the designing of improved greenhouses of varied sizes to satisfy completely different farmer requirements based mostly totally on availability of land and sources,” says Dr. Stobdan.

“I put within the Ladakh Greenhouse in October 2019 with help from the Defence Evaluation & Development Organisation (DRDO). That’s the third winter season the place I’ve employed it. Earlier to placing on this greenhouse, I had put in two smaller ones coated in polyethylene sheets. The problem with these older greenhouses was that after November, they’d freeze up inside. Last winter, I grew cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, methi, radish, tomatoes, mustard and coriander. After sowing these crops in October, by December I harvest my spinach. Cauliflower and the rest, I harvest in January,” says Tashi Tondup Angyal, a 56-year-old farmer from Thiksey, who was among the many many first adopters of a medium sort greenhouse.

In accordance with a doc authored by 9 researchers beneath the aegis of DIHAR in 2019, among the many salient choices of the model new and improved Ladakh Greenhouse embrace the partitions on the east, west and north sides constructed with stone and cement, which they argue requires minimal maintenance. “The wall on [the] north side contained within the greenhouse is used for fixing racks that may be utilized for varied features. An outer mud-brick wall with insulation in between the two partitions has moreover been studied,” explains the doc (no hyperlink, a provide shared it with me).

The second issue to the model new Ladakh Greenhouse is utilizing “clear UV stabilised triple layer polycarbonate panel is used for masking the south face of the greenhouse,” which they argue “has greater heat retention functionality” and “retains an acceptable transparency even after 20 years of publicity to harsh climate situations of Ladakh”.

Cabbage Greenhouse
Rising cabbage throughout the Ladakh Greenhouse

One different change to the earlier iterations of the earlier passive picture voltaic greenhouses is utilizing sloped (to the north) Polyurethane Foam (PUF) roof which is sturdy, “has greater insulation properties as compared with typical picket roofs” and “doesn’t allow progress of molds and fungus”, which is a critical concern in typical Ladakhi greenhouses with picket roofs.

Along with utilizing PUF, the other alternative is to go for a rust-resistant pre-coated “GI sheet topped with a layer of hay and soil as insulating supplies can be used for roofing”. Then, there are metallic or polycarbonate doorways on the east properly that require little or no maintenance and manually, nonetheless merely operated, ventilators with metallic frames as properly.

The temperature inside these greenhouses stays above freezing, even in December and January. With an extended shelf-life of as a lot as 25 years, farmers can now cultivate crops all through the 12 months.

“A variety of crops have been effectively grown contained within the greenhouse all through winter months— cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, knol-khol, tomato and even mushroom. In a medium greenhouse one can pay money for as a lot as 325 kg of cauliflower/ greenhouse; 398 kg cabbage/ greenhouse; and 231 kg knol-khol/ greenhouse in Leh. These crops cannot develop properly in typical greenhouses. Inside the winter months, a variety of crops could possibly be grown, which in another case is simply not attainable in an ordinary greenhouse. All through the summer season season months, a crop like cucumber would ordinarily benefit from a harvest from August onwards throughout the open space. Grown inside this greenhouse, nonetheless, harvest comes earlier in June, and we benefit from a greater crop yield of 4.5 kg per plant versus 1.6 kg per plant on the open space — a 3-fold enhance in crop productiveness,” says Dr Stobdan.

Rising cucumber throughout the Ladakh Greenhouse

“Over the past winter season, after contemplating the greens we consumed in-house, we earned spherical Rs 75,000 from all the crops grown contained within the Ladakh greenhouse. All through the summer season season months, leafy greens like coriander, spinach and radish don’t develop very properly. Instead, we develop tomatoes, okra, capsicum, brinjal, chilies, and so forth. Since we started using this greenhouse, I’ve cumulatively earned about Rs 1.75 lakh from all the crops grown inside excluding the devices we eat in-house. Due to this greenhouse, my income from farming has elevated. We in the mean time are merely able to develop greens all through peak winter months in our greenhouse the place we use polycarbonate sheets. Within the summertime, cauliflower sells for Rs 50 per keg, nonetheless by winter (January) we get about Rs 110 per kg,” claims Tondup.

Nevertheless even with out this financial assist, Dr Stobdan believes farmers can break-even on the funding they made on the greenhouse in six years.

Farmers are even rising mushroom in these Ladakh Greenhouses

“Our objective is to verify locals have entry to inexperienced greens in the middle of the height winter season. We’ve seen in these greenhouses that when the temperature outdoor is -30 ranges Celsius, inside it’s 10 ranges Celsius. Along with farmers, entrepreneurs and completely different residents who can’t uncover work in the middle of the winter season, may additionally earn properly in the middle of the winter season by rising and selling all these greens which have a ready market. We’ve even made a crop calendar for farmers, serving to them navigate what they’ll develop all 12 months lengthy throughout the greenhouse. Along with arrange, we moreover give them some teaching about what crops they’ll develop all through spring, summer season season and winter seasons,” says Tsetan.

In the long run, the goal is to cut back dependence on modern greens from outdoor the world — every all through summer season season and winter. For this, the Ladakh UT administration’s objective is to find out 1,000 greenhouses in Ladakh, along with Leh and Kargil district, throughout the subsequent two years.

(Edited by Yoshita Rao)

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