Producing crops in artificial media brings many benefits, one of them being a lower occurrence of soil-borne disease. However, it also sets certain demands. Plant nutrition expert Dr. Nic Combrink, explains that your well-draining substrate must be regularly fertigated by adding nutrients to the irrigation water at optimum ratios and concentrations. This is due to the low buffering capacity of artificial growing media, which means that it will make a very small contribution to plant nutrition. Nutrients will have to be applied to the plant accurately and during the correct growth stages to be able to fulfil the needs of the plant.
Combrink explains that, in artificial media, roots must function in a relatively small volume, and thus they will need more frequent irrigations than soil. “However, if water is applied too frequently, it will lead to water-logging and non-functional roots. The low water holding capacity of artificial media therefore means that water and nutrients will have to be applied often and in small quantities.”
These complexities demand a lot of attention to detail and strategic actions from the producer. Luckily, the producer is not alone: experts in the industry have a wealth of knowledge to share and want to affect continuous progress on farm level. Netafim South Africa and Vegtech Netafim understand the important of sharing knowledge and therefore created an opportunity for global experts to share knowledge on growing plants in artificial media.
The seminar will focus on growing plants in an artificial medium and a protected environment. It will take place on 23 November 2021 from 07:45 - 14:00 at Protea Hotel, Technopark, Stellenbosch and can be attended in person or on a virtual platform.
The following topics will be addressed:
- Dr. Stan Deckers: Water quality and hydroponics considering specific crop characteristics, the possibility of re-using drain water, and the risk of the dripper clogging.
- Dr. Stan Deckers: Sampling in hydroponics and translating results into crop-specific advice for solid or liquid fertilizer use.
- Dr. Nic Combrink: Optimizing plant production by preventing cut-out.
- Dr. Rykie van der Westhuizen: Using capacitance water sensors to schedule irrigation for crops grown hydroponically in coir.
- Willem Smit: Irrigation equipment related to filtration and nutrigation when growing in an artificial medium
- Deon van Rooyen: Climate control in a protected environment
“The field of growing plants in artificial media and protected environments has seen rapid growth and, across the globe, many experts have made great efforts to research this field in order to strengthen the hands of producers,” says Chris Malan, agronomy manager at Netafim South Africa. As the industry evolves, it is important that we adapt our way of thinking and the way we apply the available irrigation and fertigation technologies. Netafim South African and Vegtech Netafim believe that we have the responsibility to act as
the link between industry role-players, experts in the industry, and producers in order to help the industry grow more with less.
“This seminar is a unique opportunity for role players to come together to take in the latest knowledge on irrigation and fertigation of plants grown in artificial media."
Interested parties can get more information here.