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Second, successful Precision Growing seminar

Within the global greenhouse sector the efficient use of resources (energy, water and nutrients) is becoming increasingly important in order to maintain productivity levels and reduce growing costs. For growers and propagators wishing to respond to this development, Precision Growing is the solution. Precision Growing is the most efficient and effective way of growing using minimal inputs to generate maximum output. The joint Precision Growing seminar held at Hortifair 2012 focused on how modern stone wool substrates are designed and controlled to help growers reduce energy consumption by optimizing water and fertilizer input.

During his presentation, Andrew Lee, Business Support Manager at Grodan, explained the 4 most important features of substrate design: “The focus of some substrate suppliers in respect to how they design their products is still based upon a pf value which is irrelevant if you look at the challenges growers are facing today i.e. energy management and emission reduction. The pf value of a substrate simply determines how wet or dry a substrate is, it does not reflect how steerable a substrate is as it takes no account of the relationship between water content and EC”.

Key features of Grodan substrates are that they are manufactured using inert hydrophilic stone wool fibers. This allows the drain water to be recycled from the start of the cultivation. Moreover they are designed to partition the applied irrigation water efficiently between re-saturation and refreshment, which allows EC to be stabilized using minimal volumes of water at the same time creating minimal volumes of drainage. Secondly because of their high level of uniformity they also have a wide control range WC which allows maximum generative – vegetative steering of crop development. These features allow growers to align their root zone and energy management strategies. However for optimal control, a structured irrigation strategy also needs to be implemented.

Hein Jasperse, a consultant within Priva explained how Priva solutions assist the grower in structuring an optimal irrigation strategy aligned with climate conditions, the use of energy screens and plant balance. The Priva solutions are based on control set points linked for example to light sum (J/cm2) and radiation (W/m2). Hein also explained the importance of making graphics to see how the substrate reacts (WC & EC) to the imposed set points and climatic conditions thus allowing informed crop management decisions to be taken.

Horti Alliance

19 leading horticultural suppliers have joined forces to better service joint Dutch customers. By centralising and sharing knowledge and experience, Dutch growers will be able to stay informed about relevant developments in the sector. By bundling customer oriented activities, growers will be able to access supplierinformation concerning developments and innovations quicker and easier. The initiative is specifically focused on all growers in the horticultural sector for fruit, flowers and plants.
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