We are working with Lebanese researchers to build mono tunnels that will improve vegetable production and simultaneously reduce water consumption.

Yields of tomatoes and cucumbers in traditional tunnels are limited by a lack of ventilation and, consequently, too high temperatures. By using a calculation model to analyse the local climate, we can calculate which modifications to the tunnel will boost production most effectively. We are also looking at rainwater collection. Along the coast, where a lot of Lebanon’s horticulture takes place, there is up to 600 mm of rainfall (800 mm in the Netherlands), most of which goes unused. Growers tend to use river water, which is of much poorer quality, and sometimes groundwater.

The use of rainwater also opens up opportunities for simple substrate cultivation, allowing much more efficient water usage and avoiding soil-borne diseases. At present, it looks as if it will be possible to increase production by 30%. The tunnels will be built in autumn 2017 and the first trials get under way in early spring 2018.