Today we begin our journey through South America, we make the leap to greenhouse agriculture in the Dominican Republic. We install humidity and temperature sensors as a test to improve the quality of your crops. It is an honor for Plantae to control the phenology of agriculture in such a distant country and we hope that it is not the only one.
Crops in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a tropical island located in the eastern part of the Caribbean. It has a climate with mild temperatures and abundant torrential rains, especially in some areas. Others, on the contrary, have higher and variable temperatures depending on the height.
In the abundant valleys we find a varied agriculture, but especially sugarcane in the east and rice. Also vegetables, tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple as well as avocado and citrus.
The fundamental problem with agriculture is variable weather and severe tropical storms.
A good percentage of the agriculture is peasant for family use, growing mainly sweet potatoes, beans, corn, cassava, bananas and bananas. When the extensions of land allow it, we find intensive crops of rice, tomato, beans, coffee and tobacco.
Their production is considerably increased by legumes, cereals, tubers such as sweet potatoes, fruit trees and vegetables. The most important exports are rice, coffee and tobacco.
Finally, the large increase in vegetable greenhouses due to the financing they receive for their installation, especially in San José de Ocoa, La Vega and San Juan de la Maguana. In the last ten years the increase has been very considerable and extensive to all the provinces.
Distribution by zones
Flat lands to undulating, dry conditions with high humidity, without irrigation: La Romana, San Pedro de Macorís and María Trinidad Sánchez. Abundant agriculture, especially sugar cane.
Flat and undulating, without irrigation near the coast: El Seibo, La Romana, Salcedo, Espaillat, Puerto Plata, Dajabón, Santiago Rodríguez, Elías Piña…
Undulating to steep topographies in dry conditions, the innermost area: Monseñor Nouel, Sánchez Ramírez, Espaillat, and Santiago.
Central areas of Jarabacoa and Constanza in la Vega, are the country's orchard, with vegetable cultivation: tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, lettuce, broccoli, aromatic herbs, strawberries… In this area and in San José de Ocoa, the number of greenhouses is increasing.
Rugged lands: under dry conditions of high environmental humidity.
Semi-arid areas: the South and Southwest. Very little outside agriculture. Mainly sugar cane and banana monocultures. In the high areas coffee and some cocoa.Ministry of agriculture (Dominican Republic)
Sugar cane plantations: Hato Mayor, El Seibo, Higuey, La Romana and San Pedro de Macorís.
Rice accounts for 80% of the production around the Yuna River, which ends in the province of Samaná.
Crops are usually alternated with fruit trees, which are very popular avocado, lime and soursop. Other areas have mango and tobacco.
Greenhouse agriculture in the Dominican Republic
The difficulties posed by the climate mean that intensive precision agriculture in greenhouses is being increasingly implemented. We find greenhouses in almost all provinces. San José de Ocoa and La Vega stand out in the downtown area.
The advantages are many because risks are reduced and production is increased.
Farmers encounter the difficulty of the heavy investment involved in installing a precision greenhouse.
Since 2000, the Dominican Republic, aware of the problems of agriculture and seeing the proliferation and advantages of greenhouses in Spain, approved the first financial plan to help farmers financially. Observing the benefits and quality of the product, they did not last long to promote greenhouse agriculture.
This type of crop needs exhaustive humidity controls, especially due to the climate of the peninsula. Its lack of control can lead to fungi appearing in the greenhouse.
The main greenhouse crops are: peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, watermelons and melons.
Agricultural probes in greenhouse agriculture
Vegetables such as tomato and cucumber are staked so that the plant can climb, and they are very sensitive to humidity, temperature and light.
Its control is basic to produce quality and quantity:
- Moisture sensor in the root environment: controlled by sensors, it gives us information in real time that we can use to modify the irrigation according to the needs of the plant and the time of year. Humidity influences stem stiffness.
- Environmental humidity: important to avoid fungicides, but also for the proper development of the plant. If it is below what the plants need, sprayers must be activated to adjust the required levels. It should not drop below 40% for some vegetables.
- Conductivity probes to measure concentrations of salt that can affect the production of vegetables. In drip irrigation, great care must be taken to control the salts that rise with evaporation and the accumulation would cause the next irrigation to have too much concentration, harming the plant's absorption of the nutrients it needs.
- Ambient temperature sensor, essential to avoid excess heat inside. The greenhouse must have a ventilation system by opening upper windows, essential if temperatures are high.
- Root temperature probe, essential to know the health of the plant at the subsoil level.
Irrigation controlled by Plantae sensors prevents the growth of fungi and favors the absorption of minerals without that the crop suffers water stress.
The sensors/probes are wireless and we can place them at different depths, depending on the type of crop and the depth of the root system, both when planting on land or in hydroponic.
The information is collected with a Hub/receiver that can have a built-in solar panel or be connected to the electricity grid and is visible on the mobile or tablet in real time.
This means that the farmer can modify the irrigation or the ambient temperature based on the data received and have controlled greenhouse agriculture for the duration of production.
Traditional agriculture has very few areas with technical irrigation. This causes a lot of water to be lost. The National Strategy for the Modernization of Irrigation Systems aims to help financially to improve irrigation systems.
This plan must be accompanied by a control with sensors, so that the farmer can gain in quality and quantity, while saving water and energy.
La tecnología Plantae también ofrece la estación METEO que nos proporciona los cambios meteorológicos y la humedad ambiental.
The most convenient irrigation is always drip, as We have already indicated in other articles.
We hope that with technology Plantae we can improve the benefits generated by agriculture in this beautiful country.
Agricultura: Diario «el dinero»
Ministerio de agricultura de la R.D.