Test sites show deficit irrigation gains

Water monitoring of strawberry crops has demonstrated savings and increase in class 1 yields.

Strawberries

Growing strawberries using deficit irrigation techniques has been shown to save water and fertiliser while boosting yield and berry quality, according to trials led by East Malling Research (EMR).

The HortLINK-funded project was refined at EMR in Kent between 2007-10 and put into practice last year at four commercial growers in different parts of the country.

"All areas are under significant water stress," EMR research leader Dr Mark Else told the EMR Soft Fruit Day last week. But projects have shown potential water savings of between three to 36 per cent, fertiliser savings of three to 19 per cent, a five to 18 per cent rate of class 1 fruit and improved firmness and flavour, he said.

Trails on a crop of Cordelia variety under polythene at Manor Farm in Kent this year showed a 15 per cent increase in class 1 yields, and improved berry firmness, flavour and aroma, combined with a water saving of 21 per cent. According to Manor Farm grower Andrew Chesson: "We were wasting much more water than we thought."

Else added that the use of monitoring technology, including soil moisture probes, data loggers and telemetry equipment, and communication by text message to growers has worked well.

"The challenge now is to deliver this commercially," he said.

Efficiency demands

The year from October 2010 to September 2011 was the driest 12 months on record for many areas in Britain, latest figures have shown.

"This has been an unusually dry year," said East Malling Research leader Dr Mark Else. "Nearly half of UK soft fruit growers are in water-stressed areas and abstraction rates are unsustainable."

Future legislation will mean that growers will have to demonstrate "more efficient use of water", he added.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

HORTICULTURE WEEK BUSINESS Awards 2019

The Horticulture Week Business Awards is now open for entries

Horticulture Week Top UK FRUIT PRODUCERS

See our exclusive RANKING of UK Fruit Producers by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production
 

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon