One of the main problems affecting growers is the loss of soil vitality. Coir is applied to deal with this but, as irrigation strategies are often unsuitable, this technique does not always reach its full potential.
Obtaining active plants with a higher production potential is the objective of the Smart Hydroponic Grow System, an example of innovative technology and an Innovation Hub 2020 Awards finalist within the Fruit Attraction LIVEConnect fair.
In Projar, we have developed this system and tested it in Spain with a documented increase in production of up to 40% during the first year and 30% during the second year.
The model is suitable for all types of soil and combines the advantages of traditional cultivation with those of hydroponic cultivation. The increase in productivity of the crops is closely connected to the fertigation strategies applied and adapted to the different nutritional and water needs of plants during the various phenological phases.
Due to the great results obtained in Spain, now this solution moves to Italy managed by our partners Agrochimica and Agriblu, both leading nursery companies who focus on innovation and new technologies to improve the production and profitability of their clients.
Producer Giovanni Lutri, owner of a company in Scicli (Ragusa), revolutionized the traditional cultivation method by introducing the Smart Hydroponic Grow System. We have talked with him to meet his opinion about this system and its short-term results.
What problems did you encounter before implementing this new system?
I mainly had problems in homogenizing the subsoil, which had unavoidable negative consequences on the quality of plants and their productivity. Production areas were irregular, so a lot of time and energy was spent to sort and level them. What is more, irrigation was organized in a way that did not keep into consideration the specific needs of the soil or plants.
Why did you choose to try this new system?
We had been looking for a solution to make our work easier and increase production for some time. After learning about this system and the results in Spain, we decided to make the change.
What improvements have you noticed in your production?
There were many improvements and they were all noticeable already during the first transplant phases. It is a different way of working, much more efficient and focused on the productive performance of the crop. Since coir was introduced and the irrigation strategy was implemented, we have observed an improvement in the growth and development of plants. What is more, the produce is developing more uniformly and it is growing more rapidly and sustainably.
Have you noticed positive changes from the point of view of production?
Yes. The root system colonizes the total volume of coir almost entirely. Plants are healthy, vigorous and with a greater production potential. What is more, the production cycle of plants ends sooner and with large volumes. This year, we are expecting 30-40% more produce than in the past season.
Was it difficult to install the Smart Hydroponic Grow System?
I was afraid it would be, but planning reduced potential difficulties to a minimum. Technicians assessed our needs and created a specific development plan also based on our objectives. Installing the coir was rather easy, as was arranging the irrigation system. Anyway Projar and Agriblu technicians have always been there for us during the risk assessment, planning and installing phases.
Would you recommend Smart Hydroponic Grow System to other companies?
The truth is I would not want to make things easy for the competition (laughs) but, to be honest, it is a turning point that leads to many advantages.