The germination and propagation of herb plants is done in a vertical set-up on the concrete path (just before the ponds) at Christ Monden's nursery in Etten-Leur. What once started as a cautious test has now become standard practice there.
Christ Monden and Bas Dirven
A number of years ago Christ asked Meteor Systems to look for a solution for a more uniform tray for young plants. That was successful. "The entire greenhouse is now supplied with planting material from these racks from the greenhouse instead of on the floor in cells. The advantages are great: a cycle takes less time, germination and propagation require less space, ergonomically it works better and the trays have more uniform plants,” Christ sums up.
Just sown, foil as a cover and LED light on
The racks with the young planting material are placed on the concrete path. Depending on the greenhouse, there are four or five layers. Each layer has 5 gutters. A cultivation layer is 12 x 2 meters. The gutters are made of steel. The advantage of this, compared to plastic, is the high load-bearing capacity. Steel gutters don’t sag. The trays remain firmly in place. Meteor Systems produce the gutters themselves and all shapes and lengths are possible.
LED lights are hanging above each layer. Christ Monden sees the benefits of this. Certainly in the early stage of the plant. The production improves. The plant is stronger and has more vigor. The light recipe is tailored to the crop. Christ: "We had to find our way there, but the result is now satisfactory. And the figures prove it; the ratio of plants per m2 per kWh is now profitable."
No... it's not. After all, the cultivation zone for germination and propagation is in the greenhouse and not in an enclosed space. And that does offer advantages. Because of the airflow in the greenhouse, the climate between the layers is uniform. This is also apparent from the plenum test. The test confirmed Christ's presumption. The climate does not have to be adjusted for each layer. A special air treatment unit is not necessary.
Before the racks for propagation were installed, spraying was carried out manually three times a day. "That is also possible, but of course it is never exactly uniform. That is why a spray boom is installed above every layer. That way you are assured that the total tray receives the same amount of water everywhere," according to Christ.
Talking about irrigation... this system is suitable for both NFT and full basin as well as ebb and flow systems.
The length of a planting cycle has been reduced by this system. The germination and the propagation takes less time; on average 12-14 days. Moreover, the length of the total growing process is practically the same in winter and summer.
Bas Dirven sees the benefits of this system: "We are going to roll this out further. The first (or actually the second and third) projects are now being installed in Singapore and Australia. There are so many possibilities. In addition to germination and propagation, this system with gutters also offers solutions for vertical farming."
For more information:
Meteor Systems BV.
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