The group now offers agro-textiles featuring a network of high-tech sensors to enable growers to digitise their orchards
Italian agro-textile specialist Arrigoni has launched a hi-tech solution to help citrus growers improve yields in even the most challenging conditions. From today, its crop protection covers can be fitted with a network of sensors, allowing growers to digitise orchards in line with the Agriculture 4.0 principles set out by the i4Fruit network of companies, of which Arrigoni is a member.
Global citrus production is constantly having to face new challenges. In the 2022/23 campaign output was just 47.5m tonnes, a fall of 5 per cent from the previous season, due above all to adverse weather conditions. In some areas, especially in Europe, these factors had strong negative effects on crops.
This requires today’s citrus protection becomes more and more high-tech, integrated with functional systems to meet a dual need: the provision of a physical barrier against adverse weather factors such as hail, frost and wind and, at the same time, the capability for planning optimal agronomic management of the orchard.
Arrigoni agronomist Giuseppe Netti commented: “We offer a wide array of solutions depending on the farmer’s geographical area and the type of terrain. All these solutions can be completed by suitable digital instrumentation which enables the grower not only to provide protection against the weather and insect pests but also to enjoy constant, optimal control of their orchard, with real-time information on the situation at every moment so they can decide when, how and with what to intervene”.
The Badiula agritourism farm in Carlentini, Sicily is one of the growers that has chosen Arrigoni screens combined with digital sensors to protect its organic lemon orchards. The entire system was installed by the i4fruit network of companies and showcased to the public recently.
Giuseppe Di Giorgio, agronomist and proprietor of the Badiula farm, explained: “We decided to construct this digitalised system to guarantee our lemon trees complete protection from diseases and adverse weather events.
“What’s more, this solution also provides us with an earlier crop, due to the increase in temperatures inside the net house, so we can get to market at a time when the product commands a higher value”.
Di Giorgio said the system’s efficacy had already been tested during the very hot summer of 2023. very high temperatures experienced during the summer of 2023.
“In those months we experienced very high temperatures, which peaked at 48oC and had serious consequences for the Verdello crop. In fact, in the unprotected lemon orchards we lost 50 per cent of output, while there was no damage at all in the areas under the coverings,” he explained.
“Due to the high temperatures last summer, the trees began to shut down their vegetative cycle. With the aid of the sensors, we decided to induce water stress in the trees by not watering them for a couple of weeks, after which we provided them with water immediately, as soon as the sensors indicated the moment was ideal. The trees reactivated their vegetative functions 3-4 days later. Their phenology cycle is currently ahead of usual, making them better prepared for the winter months.”