Trutina helps Chinese greenhouse owners create a more efficient irrigation strategy

Yang Kun from TickRise Consulting (Trutina expert and greenhouse consultant in China) shares how our innovative greenhouse data monitoring solution helped a local greenhouse to solve its irrigation problems and maximize its production.

Project brief

  • Location: Fanfan Farm - Sanhe City, Langfang City, Hebei Province, China
  • Vegetable: tomato and colored peppers
  • Area: 2 ha, divided into 4 independent climate-controlled areas
  • Products used: Trutina Basic, Trutina Professional

It started with irrigation problems

The FanFan Farm started its operation in 2016. Although it has been utilizing the Dutch horticulture technology, with an independent recipe management system, professional irrigation equipment, and nutrient solution recovery equipment, the farm has not been able to achieve precise control of irrigation.

The main problem was that several important values were not measured, therefore the internal rhizosphere environment of the substrate slab was unknown – pH value, EC, substrate water content, drainage status of the substrate slabs and irrigation distribution could not be used for improving irrigation strategy. In the first year, without such elementary data, irrigation was done just as it seemed right – but it did not bring the required results (the farm could not increase its yield, save water and fertilizers or improve the root quality).

Finding the solution

Faced with these problems, the farm decided to add a substrate monitoring device before the start of the next crop to improve their irrigation strategy and guarantee their success. After half a year of research, the farm finally chose our Trutina system, and completed its installation to be ready for the 2017-2018 crop season.

With Trutina, the farm started to measure the real-time weight of substrate slabs and plants, calculate the drainage distribution and plant transpiration – thanks to the helpful user interface, they were able to visualize these data on a dashboard, with useful charts and curves. The technical staff received great support for their decision-making: through the display of the drainage distribution, the growers were assisted to adjust the irrigation frequency and irrigation water volume, and by reading the plant transpiration data, they managed to confirm whether the irrigation distribution was reasonable.

A quick improvement started in their irrigation strategy, constantly fine-tuning it using real-time data. As a result, the second crop provided much better results: “We control the EC much in a much more stable way and managed to decrease cracking fruits. We’ve also managed to decrease the usage of water and fertilizers and achieved better slab conditions - such as better EC and WC. Trutina is a great help for us to optimize drainage distribution.” – said the FanFan Farm greenhouse manager.

Additional benefits of greenhouse monitoring

Besides correcting the irrigation strategy, Trutina offered further benefits for the farm.

Saving water and fertilizer

Because the Trutina system can monitor the status of the substrate slabs in real time, and the data sampling frequency is as high as 5 seconds, the better irrigation strategy also contributed to avoiding wasted water and fertilizer, while increasing the substrate buffer. The water consumption and fertilizer consumption of the greenhouse in the second year have dropped significantly (based on the records, the water consumption has decreased by about 5%).

Better control over plant balance

Thanks to the real time dashboard data and chart analysis, provided by Trutina, the greenhouse owner gets instant feedback of how their irrigation strategy works. The results are immediately shown on the interface, therefore it quickly turns out when the vegetative growth and reproductive growth of the plant are unbalanced. In such a case, the problem can be solved even without any intervention of the greenhouse environment: simply, by changing the irrigation. It’s a convenient way for adjusting crop and growth balance. “It’s like adding more production management tools to our technicians.” – said the FanFan farm greenhouse manager.

Preserving root health

In the first year, the farm did not use any substrate monitoring equipment. In order to avoid the deterioration of the rhizosphere environment, the amount of irrigation was often increased to improve the buffer capacity of the substrate bag. At the same time, the timing of the first irrigation in the morning was always a question for the operator. When to start? How much should the first irrigation amount be?

The uncertainty led to root browning and the number of capillary roots was also insufficient, which caused plant absorption barriers and negatively affected yield and quality. Luckily, thanks to Trutina’s real-time monitoring of the root system, the grower is always able to provide the optimal environment for the root system, delay the aging of the roots and ensure that the root system in the stubble always remains healthy.

Upgrading to Trutina Professional

After the first year of using Trutina, the farm has deeply felt the power of its functions and its day-to-day help in forming the production strategy. It was not a question to utilize even more of Trutina’s functionality, so the farm upgraded to Trutina Professional.

Compared with the basic version, the professional edition can not only carry out comprehensive monitoring of substrates, but also monitor the plant photosynthesis and transpiration through the collection and calculation of light data. Pai Leuho farm made a remarkable step towards data-driven agriculture.

About the product: Trutina greenhouse analytics

Trutina is an innovative greenhouse monitoring system: a combination of hardware (smart sensors) and software (cloud-based analytics) that helps greenhouse owners better understand what happens with their plants, by measuring weight, drain and various other parameters. The platform gives the user valuable insights that contribute to creating a better irrigation strategy, giving full control over the vegetative / generative plant balance, and having more yield, saving on water and energy costs and optimizing daily routine.

Let’s talk about your greenhouse

Is there anything in common with you and the greenhouse described above? Do you have problems with creating the best irrigation strategy, increasing your yield and having better control over your plants? Trutina can help: don’t hesitate to book a free consultation with one of our experts and talk about the possibilities: