Hydroponic cultivation is carried out on a substrate or another medium; that is, the crop that does not rely on soil. There are usually two options: potting or growing in ready-to-use bags of coconut fibre, known as easy planters.
For Eng. Álvaro Villalba, a specialist in blueberry cultivation “the most important advantage of this system is that it does not depend on the soil conditions; therefore, by eliminating the soil as a limiting factor, blueberry production can be brought to areas with better climates and better water availability, or even better access to the consumer market.”
Besides, numerous trials have shown that soilless methods help improve the production volume and quality of the fruit. “In the first three years, there is a better yield, with fruits of higher quality and larger calibre, which makes them easier to harvest and also more marketable,” he said.Thanks to the homogeneity of the substrate, all the plants develop in the same conditions. This is not usually the case with soil, which has different edaphic characteristics, causing the plants to develop differently.
Soilless cultivation methods also allow for greater fertigation management and facilitate a better control of the plant’s health, as pest threats are easier to monitor.
He pointed out that by cultivating the plants in individual containers, it is much easier to keep pests or diseases under control, or even to remove and replace the plants affected.
“In hydroponic cultivation, the substrate allows for a better development of the root in the first vegetative stages. We know that blueberry plants are very sensitive to moisture, so the substrate is specially designed for a correct drainage, avoiding the appearance of puddles that would seriously affect the crop,” explained the specialist.
Also, the cultivation in pots makes it easier to plant in a limited space, which is an advantage that makes it possible to double the production at any given time.
Moreover, hydroponic solutions significantly increase the plant density, reaching up to 9,000 plants per hectare, he explained.
Mr Villalba pointed out that Projar is the only company that offers a complete package of products and advice for the cultivation of blueberries, both in the most innovative soilless techniques and in traditional soil crops.
“Projar works in Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia. We have been advising blueberry producers for more than 6 years to help them improve the productivity of their farms,” he said.
Blueberry or raspberry plantations need specific soil and climate conditions; however, thanks to developments in plant varieties, it has become possible to overcome the climate challenges, as long as the appropriate techniques are used. The hydroponic solutions that we have developed at Projar make it possible for these crops to be grown in any region, even in places that have clay soils with low acidity,” he said.
Source: Fresh Plaza