The Newly Expanded WET Centre


The Newly Expanded WET Centre

Come see the newly expanded WET Centre at Fruit Focus 2021

We’ve a lot to catch up on!

During the WET Centre tours this year, we’ll summarise the results from a highly productive 2020 season and explain how the very different growing season so far in 2021 is affecting productivity, berry quality and resource use. We’ll also explain how we’re using the data captured at the WET Centre with our sensor networks and with a SAGA robot to develop predictive models and to inform our decision making. And our WET Centre partners will be on hand to explain some of the new technologies and products that we’re testing this year to help to optimise resource acquisition, berry quality and shelf-life potential.   

The WET Centre has grown to include an additional section in 2021!  Take a tour to see all the new technology at work.  

About  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 LIVE will see many aspects of the on-going strawberry and raspberry research programmes via videos & demos 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.