"I foresee a gigantic change in strawberry cultivation in the coming years, certainly in Germany," says Eric van der Klauw of AgrowSer. “Strawberry growers are abandoning cultivation in the open field and are increasingly opting for cultivation on (covered) racks. All this mainly because of labor issues and crop maintenance. Working with gutters at a higher level is more pleasant."
But to make it completely easy, a grower actually needs free space under the gutters. That is possible with hanging gutters, but is that also possible in a poly tunnel greenhouse? "Certainly," said Eric, "as long as the greenhouse is strong enough."
The Multi-tunnel greenhouse from AgrowSer meets this condition. But how? Eric: “Most poly tunnel greenhouses consist of separate tunnels, but we link those tunnels, so that they reinforce each other and the stronger structure also makes them extra sturdy. This makes it possible to install suspended gutters in a tunnel greenhouse. Actually, just like a grower who is working in a glass Venlo greenhouse.”
Tunnel section showing the suspension hooks for the cultivation gutters and the stronger tunnel structure,
Create greenhouse climate
The first project with a multi-tunnel greenhouse has recently been put into production at Strawberry Nursery Ros in Sprundel. Underneath a roof of 6.70 meters 6 gutters are hanging. Gutters that easily reach a weight of 30 kilos per linear meter if plants grow on substrate and when also some part of water and heat technology is fixed on the gutters.
In the Multi-tunnel greenhouse, which roughly requires an investment that is three times lower than that of a glass greenhouse with the standard technical equipment attached, it becomes possible for the grower to create a real greenhouse climate. “There is a continuous ventilation window in the greenhouse roof. Over the entire length of the greenhouse, a grower can choose whether he wants single-sided or double-sided ventilation windows. With an added climate computer, it becomes possible for the grower to automatically regulate the climate, to close the windows during rain and wind, to ventilate if desired, just like in a glass greenhouse.”
Side view from the central path at Ros, so that the hanging gutters are clearly visible
A big leap anyway from the open field
Only then at a less high investment than with a glass greenhouse. “Growers who leave the open field and switch to the covered cultivation must already spend a lot when it comes to costs. Some people therefore first opt for the 'walking cover greenhouse', the most basic form of a tunnel greenhouse that requires the least amount of investment.
This is often sufficient for growers who have only been on the market for a short time with their strawberries. But if it is important to be on the market longer, to guarantee quality and to make labor conditions friendly, a grower can no longer do without a greenhouse. The Multi-tunnel greenhouse will then be an option. "Depending on how the market is, where the grower sells his strawberries, he or she can then choose whether and how much he wants to heat to advance the cultivation."