“Since we installed AGA’s CO2 fertilisation solution last year, our tomato plants are stronger and healthier, and produce bigger, plumper, sweeter tomatoes. Customers have even commented on how delicious they are,” says Vikentomater’s CEO, Mats Olofsson.
Carbon dioxide fertilisation is a state-of-the-art agricultural solution that can be used to enhance the growth of cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce. Whilst normal air has a carbon dioxide concentration of around 400 ppm, research shows that most plants fare better in environments with carbon dioxide concentrations of between 600 and 1,000 ppm. Supplementary carbon dioxide is particularly important when using artificial lighting, as low concentrations of carbon dioxide may cause growth to halt, thereby minimising the impact of artificial lighting.
When carbon dioxide is added to greenhouse air, it enhances the photosynthesis of the plants, resulting in stronger, healthier vegetables, while yields have been shown to increase by as much as 25-30 per cent. Moreover, carbon dioxide fertilisation also produces earlier harvests and improves the ability of plants to resist disease and pests.
In the past, Vikentomater burned natural gas to provide the extra CO2 needed in its greenhouse. However, since installing AGA’s new solution, it is able to pump three times more CO2 into the greenhouse with significantly less environmental impact.
Vikentomater is one of approximately 20 tomato growers in the southern Swedish regions to have invested in AGA’s CO2 fertilisation solution. The AGA salesperson behind this success story is Thomas B Carlsson.
“The solution is based on a CO2 tank and a vaporiser that is used to pump the right amount of CO2 into the greenhouse. In order to ensure optimal benefit for the tomato plants, we also use the cold from the evaporator to reduce the temperature in the boiler room,” explains Carlsson, adding that he had been in touch with Vikentomater for several years before Mats Olofsson finally agreed to invest in the solution.
“The truth is I didn’t believe the numbers AGA was presenting to me could be accurate,” admits Olofsson. “It all sounded too good to be true.”
In 2017, after installing AGA’s CO2 solution, Vikentomater succeeded in delivering 20 more tonnes of tomatoes than the previous year, representing a yield increase of approximately ten per cent.
“This was despite the fact that we were two weeks late planting our tomatoes due to adverse weather conditions. Last year was one of the worst years on record in Sweden in terms of hours of sunshine – a factor that would normally have had a very negative effect on our harvest,” continues Olofsson. “However, thanks to AGA’s CO2 solution, our numbers are up instead of down.”
Last year was a good year for Vikentomater, and Olofsson has even higher hopes for 2018.
“Everything depends on the weather gods,” he says. “If this year turns out to be sunny, I’m confident our harvest will be even better.”