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Collaboration

Al Faisaliya has scientific collaboration with Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), which is the only centre having agriculture research facility in Kuwait. Details of completed research projects that Faisaliya funded to KISR are following;

1. Establishment of a native plant nursery

Project leader: Dr. Gary Brown
Department of Aridland Agriculture and Greenery, Food Resources and Marine Sciences Division, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research
Period: 2006 - 2008

Introduction

In recent decades, the rangelands of Kuwait have suffered from massive degradation caused by a number of factors, most notably overgrazing. Furthermore, the military activities associated with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait led to a marked deterioration in their condition. The damage to the rangelands is so severe that in the short to medium-term, specific restoration measures are required to promote vegetation regeneration. Regarding damage caused by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) strongly recommended remediation techniques that facilitate natural recovery processes. This will inevitably require large numbers of native plant species to be planted or seeded, which in turn will necessitate the involvement of the private sector to ensure that these plants can be grown within a short time-frame. The primary aim of this Research Activity was to develop the infrastructure and initiate a large-scale operation aimed at growing native plants for habitat restoration in cooperation with the private sector (Al-Faisaliya Farm in Wafra, Kuwait).

Methods

After establishing the necessary infrastructure at Al-Faisaliya Farm in Wafra, including a new greenhouse and shade house, as well as preparing several large fields for outplanting, work began on the propagation of the different species. Germination was initially carried out in the KISR laboratory, and the seedlings were transported to Wafra where they were planted in small Jiffy pots. After about 4-8 weeks, plants were transferred to 5-gallon pots for further growth in the greenhouse, before they were either outplanted to the field or moved to the shade house for longer-term storage.

Findings

Conclusions

The large scale production of native perennial plant species has been shown to be technically feasible with relatively little investment required for infrastructure. The plants produced can be used for ecosystem restoration purposes, which could be of great relevance if the large-scale UNCC-funded remediation and revegetation projects are implemented in Kuwait. Large quantities of seeds are produced by these plants after just one year. This shows that a seed production unit is technically feasible, which will be of great relevance to the UNCC-funded projects. Apart from restoration purposes, the native perennial grasses can be used as an excellent source of fodder for domestic livestock, especially as they require relatively little irrigation water when compared to conventional grasses.

Applications

Knowledge and experience gained from this project will prove invaluable once the large-scale production of native plants species as part of the UNCC-funded remediation activities in Kuwait are initiated. The results of the project will also be of great benefit to Kuwait's Environmental Remediation Program (KERP). The production of native grasses using little water could have important implications for agriculture, as the grass can be harvested as a cost efficient source of highly palatable forage.

2. Pilot scale organic greenhouse vegetable production

Project leader: Dr. N. R. Bhat
Department of Aridland Agriculture and Greenery, Food Resources and Marine Sciences Division, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research
Period: 2006 - 2009

Introduction

Several countries have converted traditional farming operations into organic farming to overcome price competition and offer safe and healthy food products. Since organically certified produce commands premium prices, it could be a feasible alternative for Kuwait, where large imports of cheap vegetables from different countries have threatened the survival of local greenhouse operations. For this it is important to establish technical and economic benefits and encourage local producers to adopt this novel technology. Growing substrate and fertilizers play a crucial role in organic farming. Hence, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research conducted studies during 2006-2007 to select a suitable growing substrate and standardize fertilizer application for production of organic greenhouse vegetables.

Methods

The project consisted evaluation of organic growing substrates; evaluation of nutrient formulations and application methods. Al-Faisaliya Farm sponsored the project by providing 2,000 m2 fan and pad-cooled greenhouses and covered all operational costs during the course of investigations. The existing multi-span greenhouses at the farm were modified to suit the project requirements. A number of vegetables were grown to select suitable growing substrate, development of optimal organic fertilizer application program, establish protocol for plant protection, and harvesting and handling techniques.

Findings

The results showed that the substrate containing vermicompost, avicumus, perlite and sphagnum peat moss (1:0.5:1:1 v/v) and vermicompost, coco peat, perlite and sphagnum peat moss (2:1:1:1 or 1:1:1:1 v/v) produce higher yields and increase net profits comparable or even better than the soil based growing system in lettuce, tomato, beans, cucumber and capsicum. Similarly, incorporation of an organic fertilizer, DOrS @ 15 kg/ cu m into the substrate followed by weekly soil drench application of Earth Juice products or Fish Hydrosylate at recommended rates produced significantly higher yields in tomato, cucumber and capsicum.

Applications

These recommendations and the organic growing techniques developed in this project were used in the subsequent project (FA079C) for producing organic vegetables on pilot-scale as well as to establish economic feasibility of producing organic vegetables under Kuwait's environmental conditions. Additionally, protocols for organic certification are being established so that produce can be sold under organic label at a premium price.

3. Sub-irrigation closed production system for protected cultivation (Phase II)

Project leader: Dr. Mohammed Al Bahou
Department of Aridland Agriculture and Greenery, Food Resources and Marine Sciences Division, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research
Period: 2006 - 2008

Introduction

Traditional cultivation methods based on soil are not water-efficient mainly due to loss by excessive irrigation, percolation and evaporation. A recent threatening rise in water table reported in many farmlands in the Wafra area, reaching soil surface in certain places, has added to already existing problems associated with soil. One approach to alleviate these unfavorable conditions is to adopt cultivation systems that are not dependent on soils such as soilless culture techniques. The objective of this project was to refine an environmentally safe soilless technique for large-scale use in a closed production system.

Methods

The study was conducted in greenhouse conditions using the closed insulated pallet system (CIPS). It is based on a continuous subirrigation capillary system with fertilizers placed in reservoirs to ensure a reserve within the rootzone. Refinement evaluation in CIPS consisted of using three growing media, one of which is a control; two root compartment sizes, and two types of fertilizers, a standard and a slow release. Several vegetables were selected as test crops. These include tomato, cherry (cv. Sakura) tomato (cv. Cindel), cucumber (cvs. Hallal and Dinero), green (cv. Capino) and red (cv. Celica) peppers.

Findings

Applications

Results recommend CIPS as a potential growing system in the protected agriculture due to its simplicity, high efficiency of water and fertilizer use, recyclability of many of its components and low resource requirements such as labor. In addition, it is an environmentally friendly system.