“The nice thing about capillary growing is that it's from the bottom up,” says Pete Hendriksen from CeeGreen. “So you always have air around the roots. The more air circulation you can keep around the roots the better it is for the plant. This is especially good for strawberries, which are susceptible to root diseases.” Soleno Textile’s Strawberry Aquamat® promise to offer an easily cleanable solution for capillary water transport systems in greenhouses. According to Soleno Textile the Strawberry Aquamat eliminates the need of slabs, can be used repeatedly for 10+ years with reliable consistency, and has better water holding capacity than typical solutions.
What is the Strawberry Aquamat?
Soleno Textile’s Strawberry Aquamat consists of four layers. The bottom layer is a total containment barrier that blocks all runoff. The second layer from the bottom is a layer of absorbent felt which holds the water. The third layer is an evaporation block layer, which stops evaporation from happening but allows water to pass through to the top layer. The top layer is made of a material called Microfab®, which has microscopic holes poked into it, and has been treated with an application specific to Soleno Textiles. The holes are large enough to let water molecules through, but will not let light through, which means no algae growth.
The roots of a plant will also never penetrate the fabric. This means that crop cleanout is as simple as pushing the plants off of the mats into a recycling bin. “Then simply let the mat dry out between crops for a couple of days and it’s good to go again. There are no problems with diseases, but just in case, the mat can also handle every type of disinfectant on the market currently.”
Because of the effect of capillary growing on the roots of the plants, Pete said that he expected there would be a reduction in any kind of root zone disease problems when the Strawberry Aquamats are used to grow. “This would mean that growing with the Strawberry Aquamat will give as good as or better production numbers than more traditional ways of growing.
“The unique properties of the Strawberry Aquamat should also allow you to grow with less water and fertilizer. We're looking for minimal leech. We're estimating about 50% less water and less fertilizer compared to standard substrates. That's extrapolated from the data of the work that we have already done on other applications of the Aquamat.”
Then, of course, there is the reusability of the mat, which according to Pete is very high. “Since the cleaning process is so easy it doesn’t wear down the mat and they can be disinfected easily, we expect the mats to last for over ten years. It is a long life product, and since we’re expecting the ROI to be fast, it is a better and then some of the other cheaper alternative irrigation applications. And it allows for a more hospitable root zone as a bonus.”
All of this sounds rather promising, but the Strawberry Aquamat still needs growers that are willing to adopt it. “Since this is a rather different type of product than what you usually see in this market, people are a bit reluctant to try it out,” says Pete. “We understand that working with something that has not been proven in the field can be scary, especially for growers whose livelihood depends on it. But we believe in this product and so we are looking for people to help us prove that it is a viable, and quite possibly even better, alternative.” This is why they are looking for growers that are willing to run a trial with the Strawberry Aquamat.
Pete and CeeGreen are helping Soleno Textile bring the Strawberry Aquamats to growers that could help them trial and prove the effectiveness of the product. CeeGreen has been providing service of sales support to grower organizations since 2010. Clients come up with challenges and CeeGreen provides the solutions. When Pete was asked to help Soleno Textile with the Strawberry Aquamat, he immediately saw the potential: “The developers spent years with trials to get the product right, to make sure that they had the right product for the right purpose.”