Trutina stops fruit loss in blueberries and increases their diameter by reducing water consumption (Mexico)

This sombrero net blueberry crop in Mexico was able to overcome its irrigation problems, resulting in less fruit loss and larger diameter, thanks to its newly installed Trutina crop monitoring system. In this case study, we present the farm's problems and show how they were able to solve them.

Problems with cultivation and irrigation

Although the farm has good experience in producing a large volume of blueberries, the owner was not fully satisfied with the result. They have experienced problems related to both quality and quantity in previous harvests:

– They had problems with fruit set that caused around 20% fruit loss – quite a remarkable amount, which, translated into income, is a significant loss compared to the maximum potential of their crop.

– The quality of the blueberries produced was also not satisfactory. In the blueberry industry, the diameter of the fruit is a strict requirement that growers must meet. Unfortunately, the producer could not reach the desired caliber with 30% of his harvest.

The owner felt that, due to the unsatisfactory number and size of the fruits, they were only producing half the amount they could potentially achieve in their greenhouse.

How to overcome these problems? 

This farmer has been following the Linkedin channel of Gremon Systems for a while, so I was quite familiar with the importance of data monitoring and also with the fact that irrigation has a significant effect on the quality and quantity of crops. In fact, by optimizing and improving irrigation, most of the mentioned problems can be overcome, including other advantages as well.

When his agricultural consultant also recommended that he contact Gremon Systems, the producer had no doubt that Balance, the professional crop monitoring system from Gremon Systemswould be the correct solution.

This system, especially its Blueberry edition, is designed to maximize the full potential of any blueberry crop by measuring and analyzing its data. By measuring drainage, light, EC and other parameters, the system is capable of showing such valuable correlations that help growers and technicians to optimize their irrigation.

"Thanks to Balance can i modify my watering strategy

guiding the metabolism of the crop towards a more generative behavior that has reduced my losses per fruit setting”.

- said the owner when asked how the system helps him in making day-to-day decisions.

Thanks to the EC measurements, the system also opened his eyes when it came to drainage problems. Previously, the grower would only measure the electroconductivity at the end of the day, not realizing that the EC of the drain at noon was much higher than it should be, probably due to an improper irrigation strategy. With Balance, EC is measured every 5 seconds, fully automatically, supplying the information directly to the system.

However, his story does not end here. Thanks to Balance, they were able to spot a hidden (and crucial) problem that was having a negative effect on the size of the blueberries.

“Hidden” problems with the irrigation system

The data monitoring system was also able to point out that the irrigation system was not working properly, a problem that could not have been detected without this technology.

"I also realized that my irrigation machine was watering too short, which we had not programmed that way, damaging the size of the fruit due to lack of water. It turns out that I started the watering on time, but its duration was less than programmed, enough to wet the top of the pot but not to fill it well with water. We were unable to detect this situation just by looking at the plants, as the top of the pot was wet after each watering. This malfunction caused less irrigation than the real needs of the plants, causing the fruit to lack the size and lowering the fruit set percentage, two of the main problems that caused us so many headaches." – says the owner.

The importance of real-time control

The above example shows well that without proper data control, irrigation problems are exceptionally difficult, or even impossible to detect. These problems, when they are present for a long period of time, give rise to visible symptoms in the plants, usually when it is already too late to solve them effectively. That is why it is crucial to have real-time information on what is happening with the crop. For farmers and technicians, this type of information is crucial.

The owner also confirms this:

“There are many functions that are allowing me to verify that my irrigation strategy is applied correctly, to detect malfunctions very quickly thanks to the alarms programmed in my application Balance Notifier. It is really bringing my crop production to the desired level, it gives me the possibility to improve my irrigation strategy through real-time data and information that allows me to make precise adjustments day by day – but also, I can even follow the changes of an irrigation to another."

On the other hand, the owner got a lot of help from the automated operation:

“By being aware of how our plants behave, I was able to switch from manual to automated watering. This was a significant milestone for us, as we had never used automated watering setups before. Now the irrigation system works even more efficiently than before.”

Saving water and energy like never before

In addition to the higher quality and quantity, there is also a crucial achievement: saving water, thanks to optimized irrigation. There is no more under-watering or over-watering anymore, the system does its job exactly according to the needs of the plant, which translates into 30% less water consumption compared to last year, which means savings of up to 25.000 euros a year (!) in water, fertilizers and energy.

This is like a big bonus that stays in the growers wallet, for more profitable production and room to make further improvements.

Current configuration and next steps

After the initial success, the client expanded his system from one to four units, to have even better control of his crop in the different irrigation sectors. In addition to increasing the number of units, they decided to upgrade their system with additional water capacity sensors, so they are now able to monitor the water content at 10cm and 30cm depth in the pot. This multi-sensor arrangement allows them to detect and confirm that the water content in the tray is stable throughout the pot, important information for decision making and strategy optimization.

Thanks to the promising results, the client plans to also purchase the Strawberry edition for his strawberry plantation, in order to make the most of his production capacities.

More information about the technology 

Trutina has been developed by Gremon Systems, an innovative EU-based team that is one of the world's leading manufacturers of greenhouse plant monitoring systems. Its specialized hardware and data analysis software are based on the measurement of plant weight with the aim of helping farmers achieve a healthier root system, better yields and less water and fertilizer consumption. More information about the technology:

Let's talk about your production

Is there anything in common between you and the crop described above? Are you having trouble creating the best watering strategy, increasing your yield and having better control over your plants? Trutina can help you: feel free to book a free consultation with one of our experts and discuss the possibilities:

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