The last 18 months have seen some of the most major infrastructure upgrades to Solan’s production system in recent years. Pleasingly, these upgrades have already demonstrated significant benefits with the improved growing conditions within the greenhouses and the quality of the tubers we are producing for our clients. We are also pleased to recognise the local businesses in our area who were contracted to complete works and supply the majority of materials used in these projects.
Poly Carbonate re-skin extension
Stage 1 of the new poly carbonate skin implemented in July 2017 proved there was significant benefits to be gained by converting 3 of the remaining greenhouses from the celloclim polyfilm to a more robust external cladding. This decision brought not only better physical protection of the crop but added benefits for the growing conditions of the plants.
The clear poly carbonate provides up to 90% light transmission. A clear but 100% diffuse surface was selected as opposed to a smooth clear option as the diffuse surface minimizes shading and provides improved light penetration to the lower leaves of the crop canopy. The sheets also contain a built in condensation control which assists in maintaining light penetration when high levels of moisture are present inside the greenhouse whilst also reducing dripping of heaving condensation on the plants below – and staff!
The plants have displayed improved growth through development of a denser canopy, this in turn shades the pots better keeping the root zone and ultimately the tubers cooler. Plant growth is not as ‘leggy’, this inturn assists management tasks significantly when inspecting the plants for diseases, pests, collecting leaf samples for virus tests and assessing moisture the levels of pots.
Dripper Irrigation Installation
Dripper irrigation to individual pots has now been fully installed across the entire system and is continuing to provide excellent results. Water management has improved as we deliver water more efficiently and uniformly. The canopy remains dryer further reducing disease pressures, but also specific pests which gravitate to a damp pot environment. The efficient delivery system has reduced the growth of algae on the floor surface by 95% and consequently the cleaning process to replant has been made faster reducing overall time spent using only one staff member as opposed to three. Plants have been more resilient in extreme heat, stems are more robust and we are not seeing tip burn.