"Optimizing fertilization for a resilient plant"

NL: New test facility for NovaCropControl

In order to analyze the current intake of nutrients in plants, plant sap measurements are increasingly carried out. NovaCropControl is specialized in this type of measurements and has, since this spring, a test facility available in a newly built plastic greenhouse. Koen van Kempen of NovaCropControl: "In order to do more research into the relationship between fertilization and plant health, we were looking for an extra test location. Finally we built this facility ourselves, at less than ten minutes from our office, an ideal situation."

Test with continuous girders

The test center for plant sap measurements in horticulture used, until this spring, hired greenhouses and an indoor growth area of around 250 square meters in their business premises. In this growth area, tests can be carried out under full artificial lighting. Koen: "The advantage of the new plastic greenhouse of around 1,000 square meters is that we can now continue longer with our tests. Certain crops do grow quite high. In the plastic greenhouse we now have more space available."

Extreme tests
Since this spring, 30 different nutritional strategies in three repetitions can be tried out in the new plastic greenhouse. So in total 90 fields/plots. Koen: "Another advantage of having our own plastic greenhouse is that we can now carry out more extreme tests, something that we did not dare to do in the greenhouses that we rented from growers."

The gutters on which cultivation takes place, are divided into separate compartments per recipe. Three treatments can be performed on each gutter, also with three drip hoses and a separate drain for the drain water per treatment. Koen: "Actually we can carry out a test for everything that grows in a pot or on a gutter, and where a dripper can be used."

Photo: In a nitrogen test in strawberry a smaller test was made with aphids. In each separate field, an aphids cage is placed with 60 aphids per cage to see if there are differences in the development per treatment.

Carrying out statistically reliable tests
NovaCropControl carries out tests for both vegetable cultivation and floriculture. It can therefore happen that first tomatoes were cultivated in the plastic greenhouse, followed by pot plants. The tests that are carried out by the test center generally last about three to six months. It is important that the treatments with three repetitions are distributed randomly within a test. Koen: "In that way, we can carry out statistically reliable tests. In the plastic greenhouse all conditions are the same and so we can trace back the differences in plant growth to the different nutritional recipes."

Fertilization test in tomato (Sweetelle)

At the moment, tests are being carried out with two different strawberry varieties and a tomato variety. Until the end of October, cultivation can be done in the plastic greenhouse, after that it becomes too cold because the plastic greenhouse is not heated nor lighted. The tests then move back to the growth area, where the first tests are started again at the end of August. Koen: "As a test center it is not our intention to grow bigger. Our main goal is to analyze and advise to get a resilient plant. But it is pleasant that now we can say 'no' less quickly. We carry out tests for our own account as well as tests at the request of other parties."

For more information:

Koen van Kempen

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