Covered soilless strawberry production in the field by raised substrate beds
Markets are forcing higher demands on fruit quality. Protected strawberry cultivation helps to meet such demands and is accepted as a typical future production system. Not only is labor comfort, harvest reliability and fruit quality improved, but infection pressure from pathogens such as Botrytis is reduced. Cost on the other hand is an impediment to the widespread adoption of tunnelled production in soil. In 2006 pcfruit started looking for a way to reduce the annual costs associated with constructing tunnels. Successive strawberry crops in one season in the same tunnel would be rewarding provided there was no risk of infection by nematodes or soil borne diseases. Soil fumigation could alleviate such risks however besides being expensive it is environmentally harmful and the future of the use of soil disinfectants is uncertain. One way to avoid soil health problems was to move to a substrate system on raised gutters (table-top system). Table-top production offered permanent protection and facilitated multiple in-situ crops per year. Table-top production however, is expensive and labor-intensive. Another option for the soilless cultivation of strawberries is the LSQUOraised substrate bedRSQUO developed in Limburg, Belgium. In this system, high beds are formed in the soil and then covered with an impermeable weed mat. A trough is formed along the ridge and filled with a substrate, usually peat. Low investment, simplicity and the possibility to use poorer soils are just a few of its advantages. Ten years of research on the LSQUOraised substrate bedRSQUO has demonstrated its potential. The cropping of both short-day and day neutral cultivars has been explored. Mulch type, soil heating, multi-cropping and sustainable substrate alternatives were some of the topics covered.
Boonen, M., Gallace, N. and Bylemans, D. (2017). Covered soilless strawberry production in the field by raised substrate beds. Acta Hortic. 1156, 537-542
Fragaria × ananassa, cultivation system, field, permanent, soilless, tunnel