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German soft fruit growers are discovering Perligran substrates
An interesting development is taking place in horticulture; Perligran substrates, a frequently used amendment in the cultivation of flowers, is increasingly used in the cultivation of food. Soft fruit and many vegetable varieties can be cultivated successfully in a closed system with the RHP-certified and FIBL listed amendments.
The cultivation of soft fruit in a closed system is catching on in Germany. While in the Netherlands and Great Britain 100% of the strawberries are cultivated in greenhouses, in Germany only 10% of the strawberries are cultivated in greenhouses. Cultivating in a closed system is really promising, the crops can be harvested outside the season, and a relatively large yield can be generated in a small space. The harvest period is extended from a few weeks to the whole year. Furthermore, the possibility to plan the harvest, the chances to save water and fertilizer, the elimination of soil disease and soil pests, are all additional benefits of the cultivation of soft fruit in substrate cultures.
Soft fruit profits from Perligran, with dry feet and excellent drainage. Photo: Legro
The use of the perlite substrate Perligran guarantees a consistent and fruitful crop. The fine particles are removed, which results in a virtually dust-free quality substrate, and ensures optimal drainage, structural stability and the aeration of the roots. The RHP-certified material is currently the only perlite product approved for organic farming as a soil amendment and on the FiBL-list.
Essential for soft fruit: dry and aerated roots
For a successful soft fruit yield, dry and not too cold roots are essential, and good drainage plays an essential part in achieving this. Coldness and wetness reduce the growth, or even worse, lead to fungal diseases. Perligran Extra and Premium, high-quality RHP-certified perlite substrates from Knauf Aquapanel, offer superior substrate permeability. The large particles guarantee a very good substrate stability, which results in a lasting dispersion of the substrate, a long-term optimal air-water management, as well as excellent drainage properties in the long-term.
Beneficial soil additives
Organic substances such as compost, wood fibers, humus and coconut fibers increasingly replace the formerly common peat - but they have other physical properties, especially lower drainage capacity. Perligran can optimize the physical properties of the soil. The decomposing organic substances change the soil structure, and it will become denser and wetter, without a perlite aggregate. Perligran provides a lasting solution and ensures that the soil substrate retains a loose and stable drainage, even after long-term use.
Legro, market leader for soft fruit substrates, uses Perligran in their substrates. The Dutch specialist has been developing its products for decades in cooperation with fruit and vegetable growers all over the world. Together they work on what plants need from the substrate. First and foremost, excellent drainage and a good water supply are essential for a substrate of top quality. And by selecting only the very best materials, Legro has created substrates that prove themselves all over the world.
Labor cost clearly influences the sales price and it is easier to harvest fruit growing on perlite substrates, in the 120-150 cm high structures, than fruit growing in the open field. Photo: Legro
Longer harvest period, faster and easier picking
Blueberries can grow for eight to ten years in the same substrate. And substrates ensure the safe and productive cultivation of strawberries, without the fungal diseases and pests, for two to three years. The crops are cultivated in structures and in the Dutch model trays, which are now just as common in Germany. On the 120-150 cm high structures, the fruit can be harvested faster than fruit growing in the open field. After all, the labor cost clearly influences the price of strawberries. Furthermore, the extension of the harvest from spring until fall increases financial potential. This is not only the case of strawberries and blueberries, but also for other soft fruit, such as cranberries and raspberries.
Efficient and regional food production
The current demographic development of the world population requires the production of sustainable food in as little space as possible. The cultivation of food on perlite substrates ensures successful sustainable cultivation for the future, and combined with precise irrigation and fertilization, this also means that the waste production meets organic standards. These are ideal conditions for growth and yield, created by Perligran substrates and not only for soft fruit, but also for many other vegetables.
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Publication date: 6/15/2017
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