As plantlets leave the laboratory they move directly to hardening off trays in the production nursery which is a multi span insect proof construction. The external cladding of the greenhouses is polycarbonate which provides a robust protective structure as well as providing better light penetration to the crop below. The diffusing surface on the the polycarbonate reduces shading and provides improved light penetration into the lower sections of the canopy maximizing growth.
A fully automated environmental system controlled via a PLC maintains ideal growth conditions for the production of tubers. Irrigation and temperature control is regulated by this system as well as monitoring of conditions in the laboratory and cool room. Data is collected via the PLC and used to assist with management decisions of the crop.
Plants are established in pots in a potting soil medium specifically targeted to the requirements of potatoes, plants are irrigated via sprinkler irrigation initially and then transferred to drippers which are then inserted into each pot for the remainder of the growth cycle. Tubers are assessed throughout their growing period and harvested when optimum size and maturity are reached. Harvesting is carried out by hand, tubers are sorted and washed ready for grading and counting then placed into poly net bags ready for the cool store. Click on the link below to see a flow chart diagram of the mini tuber production cycle at Solan. This is repeated up to 4 times per season to produce the required number of mini tubers ordered by clients.
Water for irrigation, general cleaning and the air conditioning system undergoes a filtration and treatment process on site whereby it is filtered and moves through the silver system into irrigation tanks. Via
the the process of electrolysis, silver ions are released into irrigation water flowing over silver rods and into the holding tank sterilizing pathogens that would otherwise be a threat to the developing plants.
An evaporative wet wall meets the cooling needs required in the local climate to keep plants growing at an optimum rate. Thrip proof netting is installed on all entry and exits to the air conditioning system so as fresh outside air is drawn through the air conditioning pads, pests are kept at bay. Water is pumped from the collection tanks and recycled over the pads to cool the air entering through them into the facility. This cooled air moves through the crop canopy and is exhausted on the opposite side of the greenhouse.
An Integrated Pest Management program is a key element of Solan’s production system whereby beneficial insects are released weekly into the growing crop to combat potential pest incursions. This combined with appropriate cultural practices has almost eliminated the use of chemicals within the greenhouses and has provided scope to use far less toxic products should they be required to target specific pests without harming the beneficial predators that are released.
The results are a strong and healthy plant and a healthy working environment for staff.