Mongolian farmers are seeing success with a project to grow six different vegetables in greenhouses, including cucumbers, tomatoes, salad greens, and spinach, ready for harvest within 45 days during winter using heated soil.
Mongolia has been implementing a three-phase project to grow vegetables in greenhouses using renewable energy since 2014. The project has been proven to be effective as farmers have collected their first harvest and are getting ready to continue the project during the winter with support from the Ministry of Energy.
Soil heating technology is widely used by Japanese farmers to enhance vegetable growth and increase yields for greenhouse tomatoes and other vegetables. Spokesperson of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry Ts.Tumurtulga explained that it’s possible to heat soil by installing heating pipes five meters underground. A soil-heated greenhouse can maintain a temperature of 0 to 1 degrees Celsius even if the outside temperature is -30 degrees Celsius, Ts.Tumurtulga stated.
“We’re able to plant and harvest vegetables within 45 to 50 days with this technology,” said N.Zandanshagai, the project’s engineer. “The greenhouse is 240 square meters in size. During the summer, we’re able to harvest 3.5 kg of vegetables from an area of two square meters. As for winter, the harvest volume decreases slightly, to around one kg.”
N.Zandanshagai claims that spinach grows best in greenhouses during winter. Ministry spokesperson Ts.Tumurtulga emphasized that Mongolian producers could fully meet domestic demand for tomatoes, spinach, cucumbers, and other greenhouse vegetables if the project is expanded. He added that soil heating technology costs up to 30 percent less than other methods for supplying heat to greenhouses.