The WET Centre

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The WET Centre

What is happening at The WET Centre for 2020?

The WET Centre at NIAB EMR demonstrates ‘Best Practice’ in irrigation and fertigation technology of substrate-grown strawberries and raspberries. Much of the technology on show has been developed in projects funded by the AHDB, Berry Gardens and Innovate UK, the aims of which are to improve resource use efficiency, crop productivity, and berry quality whilst reducing waste and lowering emissions in bag-grown strawberry and container-grown raspberry.

Visitors at Fruit Focus 2020 will see many aspects of the on-going strawberry and raspberry research programmes across the three science departments at NIAB EMR being demonstrated in a commercial cropping situation.

  • We’re growing Malling™ Champion, an everbearer released in 2019 from the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club.
     
  • We’re investigating the cause of the 10% yield increase seen in 2018 when using white Cocogreen bags compared to black Cocogreen bags. We’ll be measuring reflected PAR, root zone temperatures and night-time respiration rates.
     
  • We’ll be covering four of the eight strawberry tunnels with the new Lumitect plastic and comparing effects on plant physiology, Class 1 yields and berry quality with that obtained from standard Visqueen film.
     
  • We’ll use calculated vapour pressure deficits (VPD) in the polytunnel to estimate the daily risk of mildew and botrytis infection using models developed at NIAB EMR and part-funded by AHDB. We’ll also test whether using site-specific predictions of VPD allows us to provide a 5-day risk profile to help growers to target mitigation strategies more effectively.
     
  • We’ll also demonstrate a prototype “AI-based NKP sensor” that utilises a form of artificial intelligence called “fuzzy logic” to estimate coir NPK availabilities in real time so that we can target fertiliser applications more effectively. The aim in the longer-term is to be able adjust individual fertiliser inputs automatically on a regular basis (weekly, daily) to match crop demand with supply.