As part of the Transition Facility project “Accelerating the development of a modern greenhouse vegetable production sector in Vietnam” hydroponic lettuce production and biological control of pests in greenhouse vegetables are successfully applied at the R&D Farm of Fresh Studio.
Lettuce is a major crop in Lam Dong province and grown year round. The majority of the lettuce is sold in Ho Chi Minh City. In the rainy season the challenge for farmers is to produce good quality lettuce as disease pressure is high. In the dry season availability of sufficient irrigation water is becoming also a challenge as this dry season has shown. A solution for both challenges is to grown lettuce on a hydroponic system (Nutrient Film Technique). This technique has been successfully tested at the R&D Farm of Fresh Studio as part of the Transition Facility project “Accelerating the development of a modern greenhouse vegetable production sector in Vietnam”. With this system farmers are able to harvest up to 14 rounds of lettuce from the same area for the fastest growing lettuce types, greatly increasing productivity per m2. Due to the very hygienic growing conditions, disease pressure is kept at a minimum enabling top quality lettuce to be produced year round. The closed irrigation system ensures no water is lost. Compared to growing lettuce in the soil, the amount of water needed to produce the same volume of lettuce with the hydroponic production is estimated to be > 75% lower.
Keeping pest under control and ensuring food safety is a challenge in Vietnam as greenhouse vegetables often need to be harvested daily, while the interval to harvest vegetables after applying a crop protection product is several days to over one week. In the Netherlands pest insects are mainly controlled in a biological way through natural enemies. This technique was successfully tested for cucumber and sweet pepper at the R&D Farm of Fresh Studio. Trails for tomato are planned for later in the year. Besides eliminating the need to apply pesticides to keep pest insects under control, the trial results indicate that the average production also increases, due to the more regular harvest. Through this technology food safety can be increased, while farmers can still be competitive with their vegetable selling price.
Both technologies are demonstrated and shown to local Vietnamese farmers and farmers have started to commercially apply both technologies. A clear sign that the project’s objective, accelerating the development of a modern greenhouse vegetable production sector in Vietnam, is on the right track.
This project is implemented by a consortium consisting of Wageningen University, Rabobank Foundation, Fresh Studio, BVB Substrates, Da Lat University, HAS Hogeschool Den Bosch, Koppert Biological Systems, Rijk Zwaan, Ludvig Svensson, YARA, CMF and Priva and supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.