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Integration of biosystems engineering for mango production in tropical greenhouse.


Future of agriculture depends on the ability to deal with the complexity and vulnerability of farming. The complexity in orchard farming is exacerbated by the vagaries of weather, volatile supply-chain and market intermediaries, consumer preferences, raising cost of production thus, representing an uncertain and risky situation. Small farms are the general features of most mango farm, worldwide, especially so in Malaysia. It is the permanent features in Perlis. It is characterized by low adoption of technology, productivity depends on climate and market is not fully optimized, and consequently, the industry had been in the doldrums for too long. Many efforts had been tried to improve the mango industry beyond the limit. However, most of the efforts were focus on improving the conventional farming technology, which probably had reached it plateau. On the positive side the demand for the iconic Harumanis mango of Perlis had soared in recent time and price had quantum leap 10x within 10 years. In view of the changes, it's timely that, the industry geared up for major uplift in technology adoption and transformation. It is postulated that mango production in controlled environment aka Green house production system can be feasible in the current scenario. Convergence of technologies in the realm of biosystems engineering especially in association with controlled environment of crop production, scheduled production systems, automation and human-machine interface can minimize the risk in farming, increase the resources-use efficiency, and deployed the production according to market demand. Recent technology development and market demand entails greenhouse production system (GHPS) for mango as the way forward to sustainable mango farming under limited land holding. The Eastern Asia centre of GHPS, China, Korea and Japan , already account up to 138 200 ha [5, 6, 8,13 ] GHPS are reported to be more efficient in term of yield and water use, for many high values fruits vegetables and melons, with yield increased of several folds more than Open Field Production System [9] GHPS for mango are economically produced in Okinawa Japan [1,14] and Spain [10].

This paper report the finding of all season production of mango cultivar 'Harumanis', planted in the GHPS at Universiti Malaysia Perlis ( UniMAP) experimental farm, in the North West Malaysia, and the integration of biosystems engineering for agriculture transformation.

The Hypothesis:

The Hypothesis that support GHPS for 'Harumanis' mango are as follows:

1. The development of affordable low-cost plastics greenhouse, design for fruit tree cultivation that can reduce the effect of vagaries of climate (rainfall, winds, temperature, and humidity) and provide protection from pest infestation.

2. The system ensures microclimate control around trees by precise application of water in the air for humidity and temperature control, and in the soil for manipulation of root-zone plant- water-relation control. Appropriate fertilizer application (rate, timing) for different phonological phase for specific growth and physiological function. Some of the procedure to achieve the protocol are reported by [3,4].

3. Planting materials are from an elite dwarf rootstock grafted with selected scion cultivar 'Harumanis' for control growth and uniformity of production.

4. High density planting for higher production efficiency/unit area, had the effect of reduce vegetative and reproductive variables of individual mango trees, significant decreased in tree growth, but with higher yield [12]

5. Plant height and canopy management for optimum light penetration and ease of husbandry (pruning and harvesting) were improvised from [11] who reported that appropriate pruning and microclimate modification of high planting density 'Armrapali' mango in India can improved yield significantly.

6. Advance post harvest handling for quality control, transparency, improved marketability and profitability. Quality mango will be delivered on demand at mutually agreed price.

7. Application of digital agriculture technology (Precision control, connectivity, data management and DSS) to simplify the complexity in farming can be possibly achieve at competitive cost and easy to operate.

The convergences of these engineering and biological technologies into this "7 in 1 technology" warrants a multi-discipline approached team to formulate the correct recipe for success. Otherwise, it is an attempt at futility. The finding from these experiments will be the platform for future farmer who is expected to be techno-savvy and multi-skilled.

Field research was carried out at Agrotectnology experimental Station of the University Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP), at Sungai Chuchuh, Padang Besar ,Perlis Malaysia.( GPS position N 6.65203, E 100.260908, at 53m above sea level), in 2009-2013. The area is located in zone 1 of Malaysia Agro-climatic zoning, characterized with significant drought during January to March followed by vagaries rainfall in the interim months to heavy rain in September to December. Mango is one of the recommended crops suitable for this agro-climatic zone (Nieuwolt, S. 1982). Cultivar, 'Harumanis' thrived relatively well in this zone, provided good agriculture practices are adhered, including stringent pest control measures are adopted.

The Harumanis seedling from elite rootstock and ideotype scion were planted in 500m2 greenhouse at planting 3.25 x 3.25 m. Standard crop husbandry practice for high density planting were adhered, except for pruning and micro-climate controlled were done in accordance to the desired designed outcome. Where possible climate and microclimate were monitored using an automation system, with sensors and wireless transmission system. Crop production was monitored in term phonological stages at vegetative and reproductive stages. Productivity was measured base on fruit wt and number per unit area. Performance assessment was made continuously.

The Results:

The preliminary findings indicated good potential of canvassing this technology for enhancing small farm productivity in the capital intensive and high knowledge base farming system. Some of the results of the experiments are reported in this presentation.

--The technology for building the affordable greenhouse (materials and expertise) is available locally.

--Production can be produce all year round Table 1 , show fruit distribution during each quarters from 2011-2013

--Fruit quality in term external and internal appearance is excellent.

--It meet the quality of premium mango in term of eating with respect to aroma, flavor, texture (fiberless), Brix % in excess of 20%.

--Maximum fruit productivity per tree of greater than 2 kg/[m.sup.2].

--We are able to design an ideo-type tree that can utilized the space and intercept the light and had produce a record of 100 fruit within three and half year after planting.

--Micro-climate for root-zone and canopy for flower induction and fruit growth and ripening can be automated.

--Precise harvest by phonological monitoring of reproductive stage both by time and temperature regime assured the harvesting on time to meet market demand of assured fresh premium quality.

--No Peak labor requirement. Labor distribution, is well spread throughout the year.

--At current farm gate price, and production cost, return to investment (ROI) can breakeven at 4th to 5th years.

--The international and local mango demands are optimistic, MALAYSIA had been consistently, the world top ten country of mango consumer. While our neighbors, Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines are world top ten Mango exporter in recent time.


Research results were quickly disseminated to the stakeholder by showcasing, demonstration and exhibition, for initiation of change, mostly to convince the policy maker. Moving from strategic research to opportunistic transformation, we engaged optimistic partners with financial backup and marketing experience to ensure that the project performance on a bigger scale. The smart partnership of public-private sector was initiated with the main focus of rapid farm modernization that will put the pomology industry in the state to a more sustainable level. The collaboration of UniMAP-Northen Corridor Implementation Agency (NCIA)-JPB Asia Pacific will realized the smart partnerships through implementation of high quality mango production, while speeding up the technology improvement, human capital development, the economy and widening the market. This partnership model would be an example of integration of resources, expertise and experience to create a win-win situation in agriculture development and economic transformation. The tri-partied collaboration so far had initiated the development of 35 acres farm of premium quality mango under tropical greenhouse, which is the first of it kinds in this region. The application biosystems engineering principles from field engineering to controlled environment to system monitoring via automation of data acquisition ,decision support systems, pre and post harvest handling would required the techno savvy farmers to be part of the systems for transformation. The university had two, focus programs to train the future tech-savvy farmers to be competitive in the innovation-knowledge driven economy: 1-The biosystems engineering program and 2-Agrosystems technology program. A few of these graduate are already employed by our collaborator company. Many more will be absorbed into the pilot farm to be trained as master farmers.


Technology will be the lynched pin of sustainable agriculture development. However, getting it across to the stakeholder and institutionalizing the systems could be a major hurdle as well. To justify the need for reinvestment on the environment, creating new market, capacity building of new farmers and convincing the skeptic and tecno-paranoid are some of the other major challenges. To rise from basic agrotechnology to advance agrotechnology there will be a lot of integration of engineering and biological sciences with entrepreneurial and business common sense to make the bio-based economic engine move sustainably. Our effort at realizing the idea of mango farming in the green house to strategic research to opportunistic collaboration and transformation to pilot farm is the show case integration of the realm of biosystems engineering applied.


Article history:

Received 25 September 2014

Received in revised form 26 October 2014

Accepted 25 November 2014

Available online 31 December 2014


This work was financially supported by the nstitute of Sustainable Agrotechnology ( INSAT) and Centre of Advance Sensor Technology ( CEASTech) of Universiti Malaysia Perlis.


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(1) Mahmad Nor Jaafar, (1) Rezuwan Kamaruddin, (1) Rohani S.M. Farook, (2) Ali Yeon Md Shakaff, (2) Ammar Zakaria, (1) Mohd Hishamuddin C.M. and (1) Ahmad Azudin Nordin

(1) Institute of Sustainable Agrotechnology, Universiti Malaysia Perlis, 02100 Padang Besar, Perlis Malaysia.

(2) Centre of Advance Sensor Technology, Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Jejawi, Perlis.

Corresponding Author: Mahmad Nor Jaafar, Institute of Sustainable Agrotechnology, Universiti Malaysia Perlis,02100 Padang Besar, Perlis Malaysia.

Table 1: The distribution of the number of harvested fruit
during nine quarters in 2011-2013 in the experimental

Period   Jan-Mac   April-June   July-Sept   Oct-Dec

2011        0          28           0          0
2012        0          68          40         88
2013       10         104          34         61
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Article Details
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Author:Jaafar, Mahmad Nor; Kamaruddin, Rezuwan; Farook, Rohani S.M.; Shakaff, Ali Yeon Md; Zakaria, Ammar;
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Date:Nov 1, 2014
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