Because it is becoming increasingly difficult for growers to obtain a building permit for the expansion of a greenhouse, it is important to use space creatively. Strawberry growers are also struggling with this, but unlike growers of lettuce, herbs or leafy crops, multi-layer cultivation is not yet that established. Still, that could change, according to Patrick Casteleyn of MechaTronix. "With one extra layer of strawberries, a grower is already making a lot of progress."
The test set-up during the Strawberry Demo Day 2019
In order to make such an extension in height possible, it is important for growers to be able to offer their strawberries sufficient light. At the Research Centre Hoogstraten, experiments are currently being conducted with this in a special four-layer set-up. The lower in the set-up, the greater the need for light and the LED lighting must be controlled in such a way that the crop receives enough light.
But according to Patrick, it does not have to be that ‘extreme’. “The trial in Hoogstraten required adjustment of the greenhouse and that is not necessary when one extra layer is installed above the existing gutters. Moreover, no major investments are needed in the manner of picking. That way there are also opportunities for strawberry growers with a lower greenhouse and a less deep pocket."
During the Strawberry Demo Day 2019, MechaTronix brought a test set-up to give growers an idea of such multi-layer cultivation. "By keeping sufficient distance between the gutters, it is still quite possible to control the climate," Patrick explains. “And with the right dimmable lighting and sensors to continuously monitor the light requirement above the crop, both layers receive sufficient light. For example, it could even be an option to do a regular spring and autumn cultivation on the top layer and a lighted winter cultivation on the bottom layer."