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Giant greenhouse in China

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Giant greenhouse in China

At 2 hours drive from Beijing, a 100 ha project is taking shape that may show the future of greenhouse growing in China.

Tianjin is home to many industries, and its population is growing rapidly. On the outskirts of town, farmland, fish ponds and marshy wasteland are being replaced by new suburbian boomtowns full of skyscrapers, luxury villas, shopping malls and golf courses. One such new suburb is Bin Hai, where a most unusual greenhouse project is taking shape.

Following a lengthy preparation period, the first phase of the ‘Tianjin International Flowers & Plants Science Park’ has been constructed: nearly 30 hectares of Venlo-type glasshouses for ebb/flow growing of anthuriums, bromelias, calatheas and many other flowering pot plants, using almost every state-of-the-art technology imaginable.

Apart from the production greenhouses, the project contains an office- and showroom complex, a factory for production of greenhouse materials, a huge energy centre and a technical area including underground water cellars, UV-drain water disinfection units and modern facilities for internal transport. The greenhouses are produced at Tianjin Dashun’s own facility and built by local contractors, but all ‘sensitive’ technology and installations have been brought in from The Netherlands.

Priva is Dashun’s supplier of computer control systems, irrigation-/fertilizer dosage units and UV drain water recirculation equipment. Supply and installation have been organized in close cooperation with Dutch installer and Priva partner T. Stolze, who are the project’s contractors for all fertigation and most heating-related installations.

Example project

Tianjin Dashun Group’s founder and CEO Mr. Yang Tie Shun is an experienced potted plant grower and entrepreneur. When his 20-hectare nursery had to make way for the new Tianjin International Airport, Mr. Yang was supported by Tianjin municipal authorities in his ambition to create an ‘example project’ that would impress China and the rest of the world by its size and use of modern technology. To be built in four phases, the project’s final glasshouse-covered area is planned to cover 100 hectares.

Using a basic ‘Dutch Venlo’ greenhouse design, the Group decided to manufacture its own glasshouse construction materials, and a huge factory was created especially for this purpose. After the total of 100 hectares will be finalized, this hall will most probably be turned into a storage- and recovery area for ‘potted trees’, another lucrative business in China.

Heating, an essential issue, is provided by a thermal energy system: 12 wells have been drilled to depths up to 2000 meters, producing hot water in the range of 85-90°C. This type of deep drilling for thermal heating is quite common in China; it’s been in use for some 40 years or more, according to local sources.

Via a system of heat exchangers the thermal water energy is transferred to several heating networks: under floor heating for the concrete ebb/flood growing areas and moveable overhead heating pipes for additional heating and growth acceleration to meet peak sales moments. A huge heat buffer tank has been installed to ensure spare capacity is present when needed.

Dazzling numbers

For a ‘first phase’ project created on a greenfield site, the numbers are truly dazzling: the total net growing area (11 departments with ebb/flood floors or movable containers and 9 large corridors where hanging plants will be grown for most of the year) comprises nearly 22 hectares. The packing area (including potting lines and modern automated packing equipment, offices, canteen, locker rooms, washing areas and the computer control rooms) adds another 2.5 hectares to the covered area. Underneath this packing and office area runs a labyrinth of water supply- and return lines. The fertilizer dosage units and drain water return pumps are also placed in this “water cellar”. Well water for irrigation is purified by a massive reverse osmosis-station, placed in its own glasshouse construction within the glasshouse materials factory. Visitors to the site are stunned by the scale and the high level technologies installed at Dashun.

After the startup period and first cultivation cycles, the project will be at full capacity in May 2013. And by then it will look truly familiar: a modern, high tech, potted plant ‘factory’, fitted with state-of-the-art cultivation systems.