The tomato test
Growing tomatoes in a tropical climate could be a complex problem: a Maldivian greenhouse combined with Dutch horticulture and international stakeholders. To find out how crops react to the Maldivian climate we have conducted a tomato grow test in the past months. Of course we have done initial calculations with the help of a Dutch greenhouse builder, but growing actual tomatoes in a controlled environment in the intended climate is a good benchmark: a hands-on practical approach.
Tomato test manual (click on image)
In the Maldives, on the island Hanimaadhoo, the grow test was conducted. In a controlled environment, a foil greenhouse with a drip system to water the plants, the tomato plants were grown. Last June, when the RIF team was in the Maldives, the Ministry of Agriculture gave the final update on the tomatotest. The test would be a success when the tomato plants were able to grow to a length of 2 to 2,5 meter. They did not need to bear fruits.
Date of seed sowing: 26/02/2019
Date of germination: 01/03/2019
Date of first transplant: 05/03/2019
Date of final transplant: 16/03/2019
Date of flowering: 31/03/2019
Date of first harvest: 03/05/2019
Once the grow test was concluded in week 17, the plants had reached a height between 2,75 and 2,9 meter. This meant a successful outcome of the test! Furthermore, they bore red tomatoes, which was an added bonus and an even more positive outcome (see proces of the tomato test down below).
Three different tomato varieties grown in the controlled environment.
First bunches of tomatoes (24 April 2019)
Plants growing steadily, flowers and some tomatoes visible.
Test location & First sprouting of the tomato plants (~5 March 2019)
Plants growing steadily, and some flowers are visible (12 April 2019)
For comparative results, additional tests can be carried out. Further research is needed looking into the yield and fruit quality. Also, these varieties could be tested in other grow systems. Additionally, some sort of commercial production assessment could be useful for large scale commercial production.
Together, NGO Live&Learn (L&L) and Resilient Island Foundation (RIF) setup the test. Rijkzwaan, renowned producer of vegetable seeds, generously provided three types of tomato plants to carry the test our. With the sponsorship of Students4Sustainability some materials which were needed for the test were acquired.
On the 3 of September 2018, initial organizing started. A letter of agreement was signed between L&L and RIF. A manual was drafted to describe the methodology. Advice and guidance from the R&D manager and van der Hoeven have been of valuable input for this document. Currently three types of tomato plants are being grown in Hanimaadhoo, Maldives.
The seeds were planted February 2019. Seventeen weeks later, after successful results, the tomato test was concluded.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries wrote a final report on the grow test. Read more