Effects of reducing fertilization and irrigation on strawberry productivity and fruit quality in Verona area

I. Quacquarelli, G. Baruzzi, M. Birolli, A. Bresolin, D. Boscaini, P. Lucchi, S. Magnani, M.L. Maltoni, F. Mirandola, P. Turci, W. Faedi
The Verona area is the most important strawberry cultivating area of the north of Italy. Here the fall crop technique is adopted both in soil and soilless culture, allowing 2 harvests (autumn and the following spring) from the same cold-stored plants planted in summer. This technique requests strong fertirrigation treatments that can be rationalised through monitoring techniques of the circulating nutrient solution aiming at defining the system inefficiencies as leaching losses. One of these techniques is the one experimented in this study, proposed by AGQ Labs & Technological Services (AGQ). Using probes placed in the soil at different depths of the root profile, this technique measures the quantity of nutrients absorbed in the different stages of cultural cycle in order to define the fertirrigation on the plant requirements. A “traditional” fertirrigation scheme – generally carried out by the farm – and an “innovative” one – managed by AGQ NDASH were compared. Moreover, for “soilless” culture, the use of AGQ was combined with a “closed circuit” system named New Growing System (NGS®), designed to facilitate the water flow inside the polyethylene bands allowing higher root growth and aeration. For each thesis, the plant vegetative growth, the commercial production and the main fruit quality traits were recorded. In soil culture, the “innovative” thesis, compared to the “traditional” one, allowed a water and fertilizer saving equal to 3 and 4% in autumn and 11 and 18% in spring, with no significant effects on productivity and fruit quality. In soilless culture, in autumn, the saving was equal to 11% (water) and 12% (fertilizers) with an increase in production up to 13% due to the bigger fruit size. In spring, the saving was equal to 23% (water) and 7% (fertilizers) with, however, a significant drop in plant production due to damage from winter cold.
Quacquarelli, I., Baruzzi, G., Birolli, M., Bresolin, A., Boscaini, D., Lucchi, P., Magnani, S., Maltoni, M.L., Mirandola, F., Turci, P. and Faedi, W. (2017). Effects of reducing fertilization and irrigation on strawberry productivity and fruit quality in Verona area. Acta Hortic. 1156, 289-294
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1156.44
monitoring, nutrients, soilless, AGQ, NGS®

Acta Horticulturae