As more controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) growers look to strawberries and other soft fruits for added revenue streams, data-driven insights into new growing concepts are crucial to competitive advantage and ultimate success.
In response to that need, leading horticultural solution providers Grodan and Fluence have partnered for a trial aimed at revolutionizing year-round high-tech strawberry cultivation using Grodan stone wool growing media and cutting-edge Fluence LED lighting.
With the demonstration trial already underway, researchers at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in Bleiswijk, The Netherlands, are already evaluating strawberry growth, yield and quality using Grodan and Fluence technologies. The partners suggest knowledge gained may redefine best practices for year-round, high-tech everbearing strawberry cultivation.
With high-quality, indoor-grown strawberries in demand year-round, optimizing high-tech CEA strawberry cultivation has significant implications for both growers and consumers. The potentially transformative partnership between Grodan, known for stone wool growing media solutions, and LED horticultural lighting provider Fluence draws on the companies’ combined expertise in crop steering, precision growing and strawberry cultivation.
“We are excited to partner with Fluence in this ground-breaking initiative. By leveraging our combined strengths in horticulture, we aim to uncover new methods that empower growers to grow high-quality strawberries more efficiently and sustainably,” said Thomas Peters, Business Development Manager at Grodan. “We are working on optimizing our irrigation management advice and creating structured user advice that will help growers to have a stable and continuous high-quality production.”
Launched in August, the trial at Wageningen University & Research focuses on the effect of EC (electrical conductivity) management on the growth, yield and quality of the award-winning everbearing strawberry cultivar Favori. Using data-driven insights provided by Grodan’s GroSens sensors, the trial looks to redefine the way CEA strawberries are irrigated.
The plants used in this trial are fresh tips, propagated in stone wool growing media at EC 2, 3 and 4 mS/cm indoors on an ebb flood system with targeted irrigation. The trial will determine the effect on young plant quality as well as final yield.
“Working on a new and disruptive way of growing everbearing strawberries under LED lighting in collaboration with the leading substrate supplier in horticulture is a great opportunity for us,” said Leo Lansbergen, a member of the Fluence Horticulture Service Team in EMEA.
“Using LED lighting is a perfect energy-saving solution for year-round crops and fits very well with a greenhouse strawberry crop in stone wool. Fluence has gathered years of knowledge and experience on strawberry research and we are excited to leverage those learnings in this trial.”
During the trial, Wageningen researchers will investigate the impact of various agronomic treatments, including lighting, irrigation and climate management strategies. Insights gained will help growers optimize CEA strawberry cultivation conditions to drive production efficiencies and optimize year-round strawberry yields.
Grodan and Fluence are planning a number of events in 2023 and 2024 aimed at sharing knowledge gained through this research with growers and stakeholders in the industry. Stay tuned to their respective corporate websites and LinkedIn pages for Grodan and Fluence for ongoing updates on the trial’s progress and results.
Images courtesy of Grodan.