Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies has presented the floriculture production sector with a successful Root Zone Temperature Optimisation (RZTO) cooling pilot on Alstroemeria (Peruvian Lily).
The pilot results showed growth and cultivation of flowers with cooled roots started eight weeks earlier than control plants with non-cooled roots. The extended growing season also allowed the farmer to obtain a premium price of more than double the standard rate for out of season flowers.
At 45 days growth the Roots RZTO-cooled Peruvian lilies (left) were full of buds and already flowering, compared to the non-cooled plants in the pilot control group which were still in a vegetative state (right).
According to the farmer, Mr Yarden Mualem, "Due to high greenhouse temperatures during the warmer months, I previously had to limit flower harvesting to only 25 weeks a year. However, this early blooming accounted for a 20 percent increase in production – the equivalent of 150,000 flowers per hectare."
In Israel, the ability to harvest flowers year-round will double the farmer’s yield and deliver a return on investment in a year.
The pilot was conducted on the cool climate crop during the Israeli summer between September and October in a quarter of an acre greenhouse. The site in central Israel holds an average of 33,000 rhizomes per hectare with each rhizome annually producing about 40 flowers.
During the pilot, Roots used its RZTO cooling system to keep the flower roots relatively stable at an optimal range, despite high warmer ambient air temperatures in the greenhouse.
Roots CEO, Dr Sharon Devir said, “The floriculture sector is very diverse and includes the production of floral crops such as cut flowers and cut foliage, flower bulbs, potted flowering as well as foliage plants and bedding plants. Annual global floral production of these high-value crops is estimated at US$ 55 billion and is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 5 per cent due to increased use in social, political, sport, and entertainment events.
“We see many opportunities with floriculture crops as crop yield optimisation and growing cycle management is critical, as most cut flowers do not travel well and have limited lifespans.
“Drawing on the success of RZTO on various crops, edible herbs and medicinal cannabis, we wanted to demonstrate to the floriculture sector how the Roots RZTO technology optimises the root zone temperatures – in this instance by cooling Alstroemeria until the optimum temperature of the flower is reached and maintained.
“The RZTO system successfully cooled the root systems of the Alstroemeria seedlings, provided increased protection from the Israeli heatwave it experienced, and stabilised the temperature range between night and day. This allowed the farmer to dramatically increase growth and gain higher yield quantities. This would allow the possibility of additional productive growth periods, leading the farmer to benefit from higher, premium prices for longer periods for a crop that would normally be out of season.”
“This successful pilot allows us to undertake detailed discussions with stakeholders in this sector who were keen to see whether Roots’ proprietary technology could benefit representative crops common in the floriculture industry grown under extreme conditions.”