Italian agrotextile specialist Arrigoni has developed a new crop protection system that it claims offers producers a cost-effective solution for farmers looking to grow high-value crops such as berries and pomegranates in tropical and subtropical climates.
The company claims its Net House system, a hybrid solution between greenhouse and open field, offers the agronomic advantages of greenhouses, such as better temperature control, at a significantly lower installation cost.
“The primary sector of tropical and sub-tropical countries is now booming and, alongside more traditional crops, the production of pomegranate and berries is also strongly developing,” the company said.
“However, farmers in these countries must increasingly face sudden and violent climate changes, with often unpredictable consequences, due to the progressive rise in temperatures at global level.”
According to Arrigoni, Net Houses made from Robuxta, a thermo-reflective screen with high resistance to abrasion, provide the ideal solution for warmer and more unstable climates.
“The Net House provides a more sustainable and effective approach to cultivation to which several agrotextile screens produced by Arrigoni perfectly adapt,” the company said.
“Depending on the cultivation needs and the fabric of which it is composed, under Net House the need for plant protection products can be reduced and the impact of adverse climatic conditions such as hail, strong wind and excessive insolation can be mitigated.
“Thanks to the additive LD-Light Diffusion in the tape, Robuxta increases water savings by up to 30 per cent and, at the same time, offers high temperature reduction and ensures the diffusion of light, useful for plant photosynthesis.”
A recent trial on a blueberry farm in South Africa showed that the external temperature of 34°C dropped to 28°C under a Robuxta Net House.
Plant growth was also more regular under the system, unlike in polytunnels where side rows suffer from high temperatures.
The only factor to consider is that, within the Net Houses, the plant cycle is longer, so an early transplant at 2-3 weeks before standard planting is recommended, to achieve the necessary growth at the time of the best market prices.
Milena Poledica, agronomist from Arrigoni, said: "The challenge that global climate change pose to producers is increasingly complex and must be faced with the best technologies.
“At Arrigoni we have manufactured and tested solutions in the field that demonstrate great effectiveness even in some of the most demanding areas of the planet from an agricultural point of view, such as tropical and sub-tropical ones.
“In this way it becomes possible, globally, to introduce crops with high commercial value, which would normally be very difficult to obtain.”