Elevated growing trays and the automation of some management tasks has enabled strawberry production to be less reliant on external inputs and to re-use irrigation water.
This project saw the development of a cultivation system which allows strawberry plants to be grown in trays above the ground on a farm in Flanders. This enables the collection of all excess irrigation water, which can then be fully re-used following disinfection making it an entirely closed system. Water use has decreased, as have other external inputs such as crop protection products, while automation of some tasks has made it easier to recruit and retain farm staff.
Thanks to the project’s investment, strawberry plants are elevated from the ground on mobile trays. Under the trays, a collector has been built to collect the excess water. Placement of the plants in the trays is automated, as is the lifting of the plants from the trays and into the fridges. The following season, the small strawberry plants are taken out of the fridge and re-planted.
The elevated trays allow the plants to be grown above the ground, which makes it possible to collect all the excess irrigation water, which can then be re-used. Overall, water use has been reduced by 80% following the installation of the new system. The use of crop protection products has also decreased, and plant density has increased from 35 to 72 plants per m².