Protecting roots to maximize yield quality and quantity in hydroponic systems

Of all the diseases that can affect the plant’s root zone, bacterial infections stand out the most as they can potentially be very harmful. The main problem is that there is no effective chemical treatment to control them. So, once the infection spreads throughout the crop, the end quality and quantity are inevitably negatively affected. Preventative measures are one of the few ways in which it is possible to keep these pathogens under control. In addition to hygiene measures, it is also very effective to avoid contact between plant roots and gutters for collecting drains. Placing a HS SPACER on the drainage collection gutter, either plastic or metal, it is possible to achieve the perfect relation of heights, between the pot, substrate and the drainage gutter collection, to prevent the roots from coming out the bag and being in contact with the drains.

“So, in 2014, we launched our first SPACER”, Amir Abbas Khan with J. Huete International explains. “We designed this to especially have optimal aeration and elimination of the moisture accumulated between the substrates and the surfaces they rest on. Because of this, the SPACER quickly received the approval of expert growers. Since their launch, the SPACERS represented a turning point in the efficiency of hydroponic cultivation drainage systems. There are significant advantages to their use and they have a positive impact on crop quality and yield. SPACERS’ main advantages are good root aeration, separation of roots from drainage water and improved leachate circulation by ensuring an appropriate distance between roots and flow (Figure 1), thus minimising moisture accumulation beneath the substrate.”

Figure 1. Hydropot spacer

“That eventually results in strong, healthy roots across the whole production cycle.” Amir continues. “Furthermore, it thwarts many of the diseases caused by fungi and bacteria which are common when there is moisture accumulation. These factors ultimately decrease labour costs and ensure that a substantial part of crop production is not lost to issues of this kind. The overall result is an improved yield at the end of the cycle. In addition, these SPACERS can be installed in our HYDROPOT & PREMIUM SYSTEMS, distributed in double or even quadruple rows. This allows us to work the system with plant densities that can be adapted to the different growth phases of the crop.

For example, the HYDROPOT SYSTEM is perfect for the mother plants as the SPACERS are not connected to each other, thus allowing the mothers to be distanced from each other to minimize the risk of cross-contamination. In this way, plants would still have more than enough space to grow, with one square metre for each, although it is possible to have two plants per square metre (Figure 2 and Figure 3).

Figure 2. Hydropot rows

Figure 3. Hydropot detail

According to Amir, two GMP-certified companies tested these systems with their mother plants, one of which is located in Spain and the other in Portugal.

“Our PREMIUM SYSTEM already has hundreds of satisfied customers all over the world. This efficient system to collect drainages in hydroponic crops has been selected by some of the the biggest producers in more than 30 countries.”

One of the growers using this system has stated that roots are well protected within the bag/pot. “Roots do not get in the way blocking the drain holes, or get exposed outside of the bag or pot, thus being susceptible to pathogens.” It is crucial to adapt such measures to prevent diseases, as these would allow the plants to develop optimally, reaching their potential for growth and production. But also, the production costs decrease as it saves money on phytosanitary products.

“The PREMIUM SYSTEM is perfect for use in the vegetative phase as well as in the flowering phase.” Amir points out. “It is well known that in these stages of plant growth the plant density is higher and therefore the plants are not as far apart from each other, as the mother plants, so the PREMIUM SPACER is ideally suited to these stages of cultivation as it covers more than one plant (Figure 4 and Figure 5)”.

Figure 4. Premium rows

Figure 5. Premium detail

“In other words, with our system you can achieve densities of around four plants per square metre, although it is also possible to have wider aisles between the rows of plants and therefore work with densities of around two plants per square metre. However, if you want to work with planting densities higher than 5 plant/m2, it is advisable to use sliding tables to optimise space as much as possible. Nevertheless, if you would like us to give you more suggestions, please do not hesitate to visit our website and get in touch.”

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