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Trutina helps Chinese FanFan Farm create a more efficient irrigation strategy:

"It all started with irrigation problems"

The FanFan Farm started its operation in 2016. Although it has been utilizing the Dutch horticulture technology, with an independent recipe management system, professional irrigation equipment, and nutrient solution recovery equipment, the farm has not been able to achieve precise control of irrigation. Yang Kun (Trutina expert and greenhouse consultant in China) shares how Gremon Systems’ innovative greenhouse data monitoring solution helped a local greenhouse to solve its irrigation problems and maximize its production.

The main problem was that several important values were not measured, therefore, the internal rhizosphere environment of the substrate slab was unknown – pH value, EC, substrate water content, drainage status of the substrate slabs, and irrigation distribution could not be used for improving irrigation strategy. In the first year, without such elementary data, irrigation was done just as it seemed right – but it did not bring the required results (the farm could not increase its yield, save water and fertilizers, or improve the root quality).

Finding the solution
Faced with these problems, the farm decided to add a substrate monitoring device before the start of the next crop to improve their irrigation strategy and guarantee their success. After half a year of research, the farm finally chose Gremon Systems’ Trutina system and completed its installation to be ready for the 2017-2018 crop season. Gremon Systems is one of the global market leaders in manufacturing plant monitoring systems (dedicated hardware and data analytics software) for greenhouses, using the technology of plant diagnostics based on plant weight measurement with the scope to help farmers reach a healthier root system, better yield and less consumption of water and fertilizers. Trutina is a greenhouse monitoring system: a combination of hardware (smart sensors) and software (cloud-based analytics) that helps greenhouse owners better understand what happens with their plants by measuring weight, drain, and various other parameters. The platform gives the user valuable insights that contribute to creating a better irrigation strategy, giving full control over the vegetative/generative plant balance, and having more yield, saving on water and energy costs, and optimizing daily routine.

With Trutina, the farm started to measure the real-time weight of substrate slabs and plants calculate the drainage distribution and plant transpiration – thanks to the helpful user interface, they were able to visualize these data on a dashboard with useful charts and curves. The technical staff received great support for their decision-making: through the display of the drainage distribution, the growers were assisted in adjusting the irrigation frequency and irrigation water volume, and by reading the plant transpiration data, they managed to confirm whether the irrigation distribution was reasonable.

A quick improvement started in their irrigation strategy, constantly fine-tuning it using real-time data. As a result, the second crop provided much better results: “We controlled the EC much in a much more stable way and managed to decrease cracking fruits. We’ve also managed to decrease the usage of water and fertilizers and achieved better slab conditions - such as better EC and WC. Trutina is a great help for us to optimize drainage distribution.” – said the FanFan Farm greenhouse manager.

Additional benefits of greenhouse monitoring
Besides correcting the irrigation strategy, Trutina offered further benefits for the farm.

Saving water and fertilizer
Because the Trutina system can monitor the status of the substrate slabs in real-time, and the data sampling frequency is as high as 5 seconds, the better irrigation strategy also contributed to avoiding wasted water and fertilizer while increasing the substrate buffer. The water consumption and fertilizer consumption of the greenhouse in the second year has dropped significantly (based on the records, the water consumption has decreased by about 5%).

Better control over plant balance
Thanks to the real-time dashboard data and chart analysis provided by Trutina, the greenhouse owner gets instant feedback on how their irrigation strategy works. The results are immediately shown on the interface. Therefore it quickly turns out when the vegetative growth and reproductive growth of the plant are unbalanced. In such a case, the problem can be solved even without any intervention of the greenhouse environment: simply by changing the irrigation. It’s a convenient way to adjust crop and growth balance. “It’s like adding more production management tools to our technicians.” – said the FanFan farm greenhouse manager.

Preserving root health
In the first year, the farm did not use any substrate monitoring equipment. In order to avoid the deterioration of the rhizosphere environment, the amount of irrigation was often increased to improve the buffer capacity of the substrate bag. At the same time, the timing of the first irrigation in the morning was always a question for the operator. When to start? How much should the first irrigation amount be?

The uncertainty led to root browning, and the number of capillary roots was also insufficient, which caused plant absorption barriers and negatively affected yield and quality. Luckily, thanks to Trutina’s real-time monitoring of the root system, the grower is always able to provide the optimal environment for the root system, delay the aging of the roots, and ensure that the root system in the stubble always remains healthy.

Upgrading to Trutina Professional
After the first year of using Trutina, the farm has deeply felt the power of its functions and its day-to-day help in forming the production strategy. It was not a question of utilizing even more of Trutina’s functionality, so the farm upgraded to Trutina Professional.

Compared with the basic version, the professional edition can not only carry out comprehensive monitoring of substrates, but also monitor the plant photosynthesis and transpiration through the collection and calculation of light data. Pai Leuho farm made a remarkable step towards data-driven agriculture.

For more information:
Gremon Systems

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