The future success of the berry business will not be rooted in soil but in better technology, according to Dutch technology company Priva.
In a world where demand for water as a resource places it under threat, and where producers are similarly under pressure to limit their use of fertilisers, Priva says its knowledge and experience of working in the glasshouse industry can be applied to the soft fruit sector too.
As a result, it claims, water and fertiliser usage can be optimised and fruit production made far more efficient as a result.
Martin Gramckow of California-based Southland Sod Farms comments: “Priva listened closely to my needs and showed a sincere interest in my project. Not only did they have the solutions to solve my needs, they brought years of controls knowledge to the table, and an enthusiasm to share it."
Priva has designed an irrigation solution known as the Priva Fruit Optimizer, which determines every irrigation cycle based on the quantity of water evaporated and used by the plant, as well as the water content of the substrate.
This is understood to provide just the right amount of water for the growing circumstances, the state of the plant and the condition of the substrate.
The benefits? Priva says its bespoke, finely tuned system for berries enables feeding solutions to be added at precisely the right time and in the right quantities; fruit develops at an optimum rate; and no water or fertiliser is wasted.
In addition, Priva believes its technological innovations and horticultural knowledge make it possible to increase crop performance and limit damage from disease, pests and the weather, while giving growers more control over what is a more uniform crop.
Australian group Costa Exchange Berries has apparently increased its berry production using the technology.
"With the Priva water system, we use irrigation and fertilisers optimally, which leads to increased production in a cost-effective way,” says a spokesperson. “The system is easy to use, precise, reliable and flexible. The service and professional support was also important for us."
Another area in which Priva says its clients can improve is in the way they manage labour and production, which can be a challenging area to control.
Dutch group Kusters has taken advantage of Priva’s improved labour planning and payment management systems to make the planning of its strawberry farm more accurate, thus reducing costs.
"More insight increases the productivity,” the company says. “The Priva management information solution analyses labour, harvest and cultivation data and provides clear figures to make the conversation with your employees easier. It supports accurate payment and labour planning."