Scarcity of water is one of the most limiting factors for agriculture in dry climate zones. More than 85% of the total water consumption is used in the agriculture sector in the Kingdom. In addition, high temperature exceeding plant favorable conditions inside the greenhouse increases the cooling load, energy and water consumption in the protected cultivation; especially during the long summer season.
Greenhouses in Saudi Arabia require a cooling system which is mainly evaporative cooling; using pad and fan systems to reduce air temperature. Evaporative cooling system has a higher consumption of water compared to plants. Scientists reported that evaporative cooling consumes 4 times higher water than water used for irrigation per kilogram of tomatoes. To increase water use efficiency, Estidamah focuses on modern techniques that help to reduce cooling water demands and increasing yield production per cultivated area.
Estidamah research programs lay a special focus on how to increase the efficiency of the cooling system by extracting air from the greenhouse at the highest possible temperature, and on how the ratio of cover-to-ground area and the cooling efficiency of the pad wall affect cooling water use. Besides, a closed irrigation loop allows drain re-use, and it can reduce the use of irrigation water and fertilizers by 20-30% compared to an open irrigation system. Using plastic pad walls might also be a good trend to replace carton pad walls to reduce the water used for cooling in pad and fan systems. In addition, using root cooling systems is one of the techniques used by Estidamah to improve root microclimate and reduce water consumption.