The good use of the substrate, a topic of great importance that will be discussed at the Blueberry Arena on Thursday, May 9

To grow berries effectively it is essential to choose the right substrate, because it is the medium in which the roots will grow and where nutrients will be absorbed.

The Macfrut 2024 Blueberry Arena program covers aspects that interest the blueberry industry and berries in general. At the meeting that will take place in the city of Rimini, Italy, in addition to the projections of the global industry and that of the main producing countries, and the fluctuations in fruit prices in the world market, technical and production issues will be addressed. agronomic management, among these is the talk “Characterization of substrates and recommendations for their use in berries”, which will be given on May 9 by the researcher and academic from the University of Almería, María del Carmen Salas.

A vital factor

The issue of substrates is not minor and it is very possible that in the immediate future it will have a development similar to what happened with the genetic offer, since its great importance in the productive results of the crop has been demonstrated, both in yields and in fruit quality.

As a framework and justification for this development, we know that the planet's soil is finite, but the need for food is not. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), it is estimated that in 2050 the available area of ​​agricultural land in the world will be reduced by half, making it impossible to produce food for the 10.000 billion people who will live on the planet at that date.

The threat to food security is an obvious fact that we witness daily, with real estate pressure, soil degradation, climate change and water stress, among other factors that are reducing the surface area to grow food.

So, producing the way we have done for years, putting the seed in the ground, managing water as we have done historically, or applying fertilizers and pesticides without sanitary parameters, will lead us to collapse. The soils are exhausted from so many applications and water is increasingly scarce and expensive, in addition to the danger and contamination of pesticides.

In this planetary scenario, soilless cultivation is an alternative that is not only viable, but vital and much more efficient in all parameters, both in terms of crop control, efficiency in the use of water and different resources. nutrients, the homogeneity of production, and, above all, better yields and quality of products, in addition to facilitating safety and health, both for plants and for human consumption.

Example to follow

The Netherlands, one of the smallest nations in Europe, almost half the size of Andalusia or the state of Jalisco, 10 times smaller than Morocco, and 30 times smaller than Peru, is the main world reference in soilless cultivation.

Until now, there is no other country that grows as much food on as little land as the Netherlands does, and in terms of sales, they are the third nation that exports the most food, only behind the United States and France, although measuring yields of quantity of kilos produced per square kilometer, no one in the world harvests more than the Dutch.

Not only is its land small, but its climate is cold and has very short summers. It has been with research, good use of technology, a lot of investment and perseverance, that they have managed to move to the development and implementation of soilless cultivation and become an agri-food power.

Substrates and good use

In soilless systems there are various cultivation methods, but we will focus on those that replace soil with substrates, which is the system that is opening up space in the berry industry.

These substrates that replace the soil are generally inert and have the objective of not only being a viable anchor for the plant and its root expression, but also being reservoirs of water and essential nutrients for its full development, among other advantages. Instead of spending its energy searching for water, light or nutrients, the plant focuses on what is most important: forming large, tasty fruits.

To grow berries effectively, it is essential to choose the right substrate, because it is the medium in which the roots will grow and where nutrients will be absorbed.

María del Carmen Salas is an experienced researcher in soilless agriculture and in the good use of the different substrates applied to the cultivation of berries, so her talk is awaited with great interest.


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