Is soilless production suitable for all berry’s varieties?
The limits of soilless production are quite wide. It includes all those systems and methods that make crops grow outside their natural environment, as the ground.
The classification of the type of soilless system is carried out using fundamental criteria, being the most limiting the physical environment where the roots of the plants are grown and developed. Said this, the limits of crops without soil will be the soilless systems in coir substrates.
The berries cultivation directly in soil is considered as the traditional method. In this production system, the soil characteristics must be adequate and stable in a long term. Over the years, soil degradation has been increased due to the bad practices implemented by producers. For example, the repeated use of monoculture, thus favoring soil fatigue.
The reasons of soil structure loss are as follows:
- Soil fatigue, because of repeated monoculture action and which implies a less crops development.
- Soil compaction caused by a decrease in the pore space and, consequently, reducing its aeration. Also, the risk of puddling increases.
- Reduction of organic matter, loss of biodiversity of certain soil organisms due to lack of nourishment. The breakup of the structure is also favoured.
- Soil salinity, nutritional imbalances due to high salt concentrations.
Considering these factors, the soilless production of berries in coco peat is introduced. The high technology used in the manufacture of coir allows producers to choose the textures and characteristics which they consider most suitable for the root development and the plant growing.
With this soilless system, berries producers will have a greater control and visibility over the crop conditions. The main advantages of soilless system are:
- Homogenization of the crop and the root medium.
- Soil infections and dangerous disinfectants are excluded.
- The energy that the plant applies to the root conditioning is reduced as it is arranged in a substrate which has an excellent air / water retention.
- Decrease of inputs due to an efficient use of water and nutrients.
- Better control of the vegetative and productive development of plants.
- Higher and earlier production.
- Higher quality production.
The good management of this soilless system will determine the crop success, which requires greater responsibility from the producer. It requires daily attention to cultivation practices, such as irrigation, the supply of nutrients, etc.
Considering the needs of each variety of berries, the correct choice of the type of coir peat that best suits to preserve the plant will be determine by:
- The root protection.
- The adequate absorption and water retention.
- The availability of nutrients.
- The adequate aeration capacity. This will ensure the correct diffusion and exchange of air in the matrix of the root zone during its life cycle.