Strawberry is one of the most popular fruits, for its high content of vitamins, minerals and flavonoids besides its good taste. Strawberries grown in Hungary are internationally known for their excellent flavour, thanks to the soil properties, ample sunlight and the expertise of cultivation. However, its cultivation is no simple task. Its development, crop yield, storage life and flavour depend on several parameters that require measurement for guaranteed success.
The following contains information compiled by Klaas Plas, the Dutch consultant working in Hungary, presenting the operation and uses of the system.
In the case of soil or soil-free cultivation, the moisture content of the medium is a very important factor, which is difficult to measure accurately. Hand tensiometers (water potential meters) are becoming increasingly common, but their reliability - due to the manual reading - greatly depends on the accuracy and frequency of readings. Our product, the AgroSense system avoids the inconveniences of measurement, making the lives of farmers easier. It measures soil moisture content continuously, whose data are accessible by the user at home or on the road, as the system has a web interface, through which the current values may be easily viewed. It therefore lends a helping hand in making the necessary decisions on time.
The evolution of the air’s humidity influences the development of plants, as evaporation is required for their “blood circulation”. The optimal value of humidity depends on whether photosynthesis (day/night) takes place and on the air temperature (and its evolution - the air cooling at night). The air’s relative humidity also influences the development of various diseases significantly. At high levels of humidity, botrytis may appear and a more humid period following times of drought increases the risk of brown rot.
The momentary optimal temperature depends primarily on the amount of energy plants receive for photosynthesis. This means that in sunnier periods a higher, while in cloudy weather a lower temperature is suitable.
The heat sum calculated from the temperature represents important information in the various phenological periods of the plants. The objective in the autumn growth period is that the plant prepare the growth of an adequate number of racemes for the spring period. If the plant receives too much thermal energy, it is possible that the plant may start bearing flowers in the autumn period, but these will not result in fruits and if the heat sum is too low, the number of racemes will not be sufficient.
Depending on the cultivar, strawberry needs 1,000-1,600 cold winter hours. Should the plants not receive this, their spring development will be lower than expected.
The AgroSense system measures these parameters with great accuracy under outdoor and greenhouse conditions alike. The system may be further extended by EC (soil conductivity), leaf moisture content and meteorological sensors, these latter deployed at the base station, which help farmers in optimising feeding, plant protection, aeration and energy-related tasks.