The sharp rise in energy prices is forcing many growers to reduce their lighting, to turn down the thermostat a little and provide screening for longer. If irrigation and nutrient levels are not adjusted accordingly, this can have major consequences for the crop and the roots, warns cultivation advisor Jos Beerens from Grodan. “More economical heating might be desirable, but this has a direct impact on crop activity. When doing so, pay extra attention to irrigation, nutrient levels and cold feet”.
Cultivation advisor and specialist in fruit-vegetable crops Jos Beerens has noticed that many substrate growers are using less energy for their cultivation, sometimes in combination with less lighting. It is not uncommon to forget to adjust the irrigation as well. This can lead to an imbalance in the crop and affect both root and fruit development.
Less heating, major savings
A lower minimum pipe, longer screening, heating up more gently - these are proven methods to reduce energy consumption and cut costs. With current price levels, a few cubic metres of gas less per m² can save a pretty penny. However, growers need to realise that this kind of strategy has consequences for crop activity, argues Beerens. “Less heat means less evaporation, less root activity and lower water and nutrient uptake. You really do need to adjust the irrigation to avoid problems. Adjust the start and stop times and watch out for low temperatures and EC levels in the slab”.
Best practise: Greenhouse water management
Greenhouse hydroponic cultivation already uses water more efficiently than field based production systems. However large amounts of water and fertilizers are lost in free draining hydroponic systems. Water use efficiency can be improved by collecting drain water and reapplying it to the crop. In this way, greenhouse growers can further improve their water use efficiency and consequently become more sustainable producers.