Jam maker and grower Wilkin & Sons has installed what it calls the first growing system of its kind in the UK.
The New Growing System (NGM) uses growing troughs that alternately raise and lower rows of strawberry plants to maximise cropped area and optimise picking.
Already used by growers South America and Portugal, NGS more than doubles the growing area of a typical table top system, as planting density can reach up to 200,000 plants per hectare.
At an event at the company’s Tiptree Farms site last week, chairman Peter Wilkin cut the ribbon and officially opened the new system.
Wilkin & Sons director Chris Newenham said the new system was a “substantial investment” for the company and it hopes to see results over the next 12 months.
“Tiptree is one of the driest parts of the country so we are delighted that the new growing system is 80 per cent self-sufficient as it uses rain water from the roof and run-off from the crop to keep the plants watered,” he said. “It is a highly sustainable system: maximising the growing area and minimising water use while ensuring pests and disease pressure is minimal through growing in a sealed, environmentally controlled unit.”
Speaking at the event, Wilkin congratulated all involved with the project, in particular farm manager Andrey Ivanov, while visitors were given a tour of the growing area and new system.