If the water weren’t so cold, the silo at Dutch Berries would look pretty tempting for a dip. When you look at it at the right time, you see a real bubble bath. With millions of miniscule bubbles in the silo, the strawberry grower improves the root system of the strawberry plants. Frans van Hulten, cultivation manager at Dutch Berries: “With this approach we hope to get rid of root diseases such as verticillium and root rot in our new greenhouse.”
It’s all about the right balance, as Nadir Laaguili from Agrona explains. In line with the trend in greenhouse horticulture, the company is focusing on a resilient crop. “The right amount of oxygen in the irrigation water stimulates the root system and optimizes the mineral intake”, says Nadir. “Eventually this also leads to improvement of the photosynthesis and the sugar production.”
Oxygen in water
Then it’s a matter of how to get that right amount of oxygen in the water. For this purpose Agrona developed the Oxybull aeration system. “For this system we have developed a membrane cloth that creates miniscule bubbles in the water basin”, Nadir says. The installation was super easy, adds Frans. “No adjustments to the silo are required and the silo only needs to be partly emptied once (half a meter of water may remain in the silo) before installation. That is all. From then on you do not have to worry about it anymore.”
Dutch Berries grows strawberries on twenty hectares, so the company works with large daily supplies of irrigation water. “For that reason I was in favor of blowing in air, just to keep the silo clean because the water remains in motion.” The Scan oxygen meter shows that the water in the substrate contains extra oxygen.
The extra oxygen also benefits bacterial growth. This may worry some growers, but it is a conscious choice for Agrona. “With the right bacteria, a balanced soil life is created, and with that you improve the absorption of nutrients,” Nadir explains. “Moreover, your crop is better protected against external hazards: harmful viruses and bacteria can gain ground much faster in a sterile environment. The system ensures that the organic material or contamination is broken down in the irrigation system.”
The latter is a nice thing, knowing that growers want and have to cultivate with less and less chemistry as demanded by the consumer. Frans: “Currently, at Dutch Berries we grow in the most modern greenhouse. The aim is to use as few pesticides as possible and support this modern option.”
To stimulate this soil life, special products are used. Nadir: “We work with organic substances from AG STIM. That is an organic bio-stimulator that benefits the development of the right bacteria.” The resources are administered to the crop. The increased oxygen concentration accelerates the build-up and maintenance of soil life. “The crop grows better, provides a beautiful leaf color and also absorbs nutrients easily”, says Frans.
In the Dutch Berries greenhouse, cultivation is done on organic substrate, a specific coco mix. The Oxybull aeration system can be used on all crops and substrate cultivations, according to Nadir. “It is the root system that is strengthened, not the substrate you work with. Thanks to the optimal soil life and extra oxygen, your roots are healthier in color and keep the crop more vibrant, which is exactly where we can make the difference.”