Soft Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are increasingly grown in containers instead of open soil. The advantages of soilless growing in tunnels include a longer growing season and an earlier harvest which is of a higher quality. Growers can precisely time the harvest this way.
Growing in containers has many advantages over growing in soil. These benefits make soilless Soft Fruits growing extremely popular. In case you aren’t aware of all the good things growing in substrate has to offer, have a look at this article!
For instance, in open soil the plant roots are more susceptible to diseases and weeds. Most importantly soilless growing allows growth management. In other words, the grower gets more control over his crops by controlling irrigation and fertigation. As a result this way of growing also reduces the use of water and nutrients. Options in soilless growing are growing in pots, in Grow Sacks or in Grow Boards.
Soilles cultivation can easily take place in a growing tunnel. This type of tunnel is easy to construct and can basically be built almost anywhere. This way it can be erected closer to the consumer to reduce transportation, or near a clear water source to improve the irrigation system. By growing in containers, the grower can also lift the plants from the ground and place them on table top systems. This allows for a more ergonomic working position.
Next to that, soilles growing enables the grower to grow his crops in the same place for multiple years. Since the plants are grown in substrates, there’s no need to rotate the land. This way a grower can safely invest in good infrastructure and irrigation systems.
Grower has full control over irrigation and nutrient levels
To achieve optimal growth, the plant needs enough nutrients. By controlling the EC level and the nitrogen potassium ratio in different stages of plant growth, you can achieve a balanced growth. Soilless growing in tunnels allows the observation of the moisture level of the substrate with various techniques and machinery. The same applies to controlling the nutrient levels.
In addition, this way of growing allows a grower to collect the runoff water. After disinfection, water and fertilisers within the water, can be reused. This result in even larger water and fertiliser savings.
Best growing media for Soft Fruits
The characteristics of the substrate dictates which kind of irrigation and fertigation techniques are used. As the substrates are compiled from different raw materials, we can design the substrate to perfectly fit the needs of the growing environment and techniques.
Substrate requirements for soft fruits
There are several important things to take into account when choosing your growing media for Soft Fruits. Let’s list four properties you should look for:
1. Water holding capacity
The substrate needs to hold enough water and allow it to distribute evenly from top to bottom enabling the roots to use the whole volume of the substrate.
2. Airy structure
The growing media must have a high air content. This means it needs to be permeable and loose enough to allow roots to develop.
3. Structural Stability
High structural stability is required for the substrate to last through the whole cultivation period. This is especially important for long-term cultivation.