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Water, land, and energy use efficiencies and financial evaluation of air conditioner cooled greenhouses based on field experiments

Abstract

High temperature and humidity can be controlled in greenhouses by using mechanical refrigeration cooling system such as air conditioner (AC) in warm and humid regions. This study aims to evaluate the techno-financial aspects of the AC-cooled greenhouse as compared to the evaporative cooled (EV-cooled) greenhouse in winter and summer seasons. Two quonset single-span prototype greenhouses were built in the Agriculture Experiment Station of Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, with dimensions of 6.0 m long and 3.0 m wide. The AC-cooled greenhouse was covered by a rockwool insulated polyethylene plastic sheet and light emitting diodes (LED) lights were used as a source of light, while the EV-cooled greenhouse was covered by a transparent polyethylene sheet and sunlight was used as light source. Three cultivars of high-value lettuce were grown for experimentation. To evaluate the technical efficiency of greenhouse performance, we conducted measures on land use efficiency (LUE), water use efficiency (WUE), gross water use efficiency (GWUE) and energy use efficiency (EUE). Financial analysis was conducted to compare the profitability of both greenhouses. The results showed that the LUE in winter were 10.10 and 14.50 kg/m2 for the AC- and EV-cooled greenhouses, respectively. However, the values reduced near to 6.80 kg/m2 in both greenhouses in summer. The WUE of the AC-cooled greenhouse was higher than that of the EV-cooled greenhouse by 3.8% in winter and 26.8% in summer. The GWUE was used to measure the total yield to the total greenhouse water consumption including irrigation and cooling water; it was higher in the AC-cooled greenhouse than in the EV-cooled greenhouse in both summer and winter seasons by almost 98.0%–99.4%. The EUE in the EV-cooled greenhouse was higher in both seasons. Financial analysis showed that in winter, gross return, net return and benefit-to-cost ratio were better in the EV-cooled greenhouse, while in summer, those were higher in the AC-cooled greenhouse. The values of internal rate of return in the AC- and EV-cooled greenhouses were 63.4% and 129.3%, respectively. In both greenhouses, lettuce investment was highly sensitive to changes in price, yield and energy cost. The financial performance of the AC-cooled greenhouse in summer was better than that of the EV-cooled greenhouse and the pattern was opposite in winter. Finally, more studies on the optimum LED light intensity for any particular crop have to be conducted over different growing seasons in order to enhance the yield quantity and quality of crop.

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Correspondence to Abdulrahim M. Al-Ismailia.

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Al-Manthria, I., Al-Ismailia, A.M., Kotagamab, H. et al. Water, land, and energy use efficiencies and financial evaluation of air conditioner cooled greenhouses based on field experiments. J. Arid Land 13, 375–387 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0060-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0060-y

Keywords

  • land use efficiency
  • energy use efficiency
  • water use efficiency
  • gross water use efficiency
  • financial evaluation
  • air conditioner cooled greenhouse
  • evaporative cooled greenhouse