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"We're well underway to steerable strawberry cultivation"

Plant breeders of strawberry plants have made great strides in recent years, for example, by moving the cultivation from outdoors to indoors, into the greenhouse. Thomas Peters, Business Development Manager at Grodan, sees a new step coming: the ebb and flow floors in the cultivation of strawberry plants, with a high-tech substrate in a high-tech environment.

"So plant growers have already gone partially from outside to inside with tray plants, and we are now going to take the next step inside." Thomas lists a number of advantages of bringing the plants indoors: "Outdoors, the crop is not controllable, indoors it is, especially with stone wool substrates and ebb and flow floors. In addition, you keep the crop dry with an ebb and flow system, which means a dry crown, resulting in a healthier, resilient plant."

Controllable substrate, controllable production
Specifically, the idea is to get a healthy plant that is controllable on a steerable stone wool substrate so that you can also steer production during cultivation. In fact, you then have more control over EC, temperature, water content, and salinity, says Thomas. "You can give what the plant needs, and you can react faster to changing conditions."

So far, the stone wool substrate has yielded good results in strawberry cultivation, Thomas says. "Strawberry cultivation is quite complex, but we can make really good plants, we've seen. It starts with the starting material: the mother plant has to be uniform, and uniform runners have to grow from that, from which tips then grow. Those cuttings have to be as uniform as possible and put uniformly on a block."

Global growth
So strawberry cultivation is complex but well worth putting work into. The market is growing rapidly worldwide, and for that reason, Grodan has commercial trials underway with various parties around the world. "On the one hand, in propagation, but also in cultivation."

In addition, fundamental trials are also being conducted. "Because we need to know exactly what these plant breeders need to do. Therefore, together with renowned knowledge institutes, we are looking at creating a growth protocol for both propagation and cultivation. Here we are looking, for example, at how far we can go with EC, with water, and to what extent we can control this."

Promising results
Following those trials, Thomas speaks of promising results. "We have already seen more production, and that with trials that were carried out in tunnels, nota bene, not even in high-tech greenhouses. Those plants had been raised in the traditional way, so they were watered along the top, only on stone wool. With ebb and flow, and with more uniform starting material and in a high-tech environment, we expect to take another step in that, next level, in other words."

In addition to using stone wool as a substrate, there were a number of other factors in the trials that contributed to higher production. "Thereby, we also used the GroSens system to control: on each block a dripper, so each plant is controllable in terms of water content and EC."

Trials have also been carried out in the greenhouse, and the first results are already in." There, too, we achieved more production in high-tech greenhouses. That is ultimately our focus as well, high-tech greenhouses."

For more information:
Thomas Peters
Business Development Manager
M +31 (0)6 15 53 16 72      


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