Tomato production of the future

In an ultra-modern greenhouse with a production area of 197,000m², Smyrna Sera produces three different types of tomatoes – vine tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and cocktail tomatoes.  

Founded in 2007, Smyrna Sera specializes in a process known as hydroponics – growing plants without soil. At the Smyrna Sera site, the tomato plants are produced in a coco-peat made from organic coconut shells which allow the roots to draw water from spiral drip irrigation. The irrigation drip is fully automated and contains the necessary minerals for the plants to grow tall and strong.

Water use at Smyrna Sera

The company takes great pride in the fact that the greenhouses are heated with hot water from a geothermal well rather than with coal or gas. With one of the most eco-friendly technological infrastructures in the country, it’s only natural that Smyrna Sera is also concerned about the sustainable use of water resources. To help monitor their water consumption, the company uses the GLOBALG.A.P. SPRING assessment.

GLOBALG.A.P.’s SPRING add-on

SPRING – or the Sustainable Program for Irrigation and Groundwater Use – is a farm-level add-on which helps producers, retailers, and traders demonstrate their commitment to sustainable water management. SPRING criteria can be assessed alongside an Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) assessment or audit and include topics such as the legal conformity of water sources and extraction rates, measures for demonstrating continuous improvement of water management, and the impact of production on sustainable watershed management.

For Smyrna Sera, the SPRING assessment has really highlighted the tomato production’s impact on the environment and opened the company’s eyes as to how they can improve. “It has already helped us to control and correct the damage we cause to the environment today and leave to future generations,” says Mehmet Ali Kaya, Operation Manager at Smyrna Sera.

Lessons learned

“Now more than ever, our company understands the concept of ‘we can only exist if there is water,’ ” Mehmet Ali adds. With this in mind, Smyrna Sera made improvements and revisions in their systems and were able to reduce their daily water consumption by 12%.

They started off, Mehmet Ali goes on to explain, by placing measuring trays inside the greenhouses. The amount of irrigation was generally shown to be constant. However, they soon realized they were actually overwatering the plants. This season, having switched from truss tomatoes to cherry tomatoes, they have reduced their irrigation by 10–11%. The decrease in irrigation was balanced out with the amount of moisture in the roots and the climate of the greenhouse. By taking accurate measurements in accordance with the SPRING assessment, they were able to maintain the system at an optimum level. The company has also managed to increase the percentage of irrigation which comes from rainwater to 15%, saving 200 tons of water per day.

The SPRING add-on also helped Smyrna Sera identify how small changes can make a big difference. Previously, for example, the floors inside the greenhouse were washed by hand every day. A new floor-cleaning device has reduced the amount of water used for this task by 1%. Furthermore, water loss is now closely monitored so that possible leaks can be identified and fixed immediately.

 

“Thanks to SPRING, we understand more about the value of the water resources we depend on.”

 

As the pressure grows on our finite resources, more and more producers are looking for ways to improve their sustainability measures.  With agriculture irrigation accounting for 70% of water use worldwide, [1] reducing water use is a key part of this endeavor.

 
For information on how to include SPRING in your production process, see our website.

SMYRNA SERACILIK TİCARET ANONİM ŞİRKETİ
GGN 4049928423061
www.smyrnasera.com.tr/en

 

[1] Managing water sustainably is key to the future of food and agriculture; www.oecd.org/agriculture/topics/water-and-agriculture/