Pepper cultivation in greenhouses

About peppers
We don’t have to introduce peppers to anyone. Crunchy, juicy, fragrant and delicious. They have many health effects that few are familiar with. Its vitamin C content is outstanding, and the colouring of the fruits consumed in red peppers provides vitamin A supplementation. The content of vitamin E is also high. Quercetin is one of the important health preserving agents of the fibres, bioflavones, which are important in the protection of the yellow-white paprika and in the protection of the blood vessels. And we haven’t even mentioned capsaicin, a spicy substance that has a beneficial effect on the digestive system!

Hajnalka Darázsi PhD- DélKerTÉSZ senior consultant

The use of decision support systems plays an important role in intensive farming. By continuously measuring growing conditions, the farmer can accurately predict changes in plant life, optimising nutrient delivery, water irrigation, and reducing environmental pressures and costs.

Features of traditional foils

In foil growing, climate control is much more limited than in greenhouse cultivation. Smaller surfaces are not worth the expense of expensive climate control systems or simpler equipment, especially in tent foils. In many places, temperature control is combined with automatic control of the vents while irrigation is performed over time or relative to the amount of irradiation. In soilless cultivation, the feedback is the daily manual measurement of drainage. The EC value of the culture medium is regularly checked by a hand-held meter. Mostly, the producer inferred from the plant morphology that nutrition and irrigation are correct.

Users of the AgroSense system can access information that is measured in high-tech greenhouses in an automated way, so optimization of cultivation can be accomplished without any major investment.

Moisture of substrate

In hydroculture cultivation, only water that is fed to the substrate can be absorbed by the plant, with minimal buffer available. On the one hand, this is good because it can react quickly to changes in the environment (incident light energy, temperature), but on the other hand, it requires accurate information. Continuous measurement of fluid humidity enables the reduction of over irrigation and thus drainage. This will not only reduce the cost but also optimise and maintain the optimal water content for the root system.

Nutrient content (EC)

The sensor in the medium can only directly measure the average EC value of the medium, which means that the EC of the incoming medium changes due to the structure and material of the medium. It follows that the more accurate the medium is, the more accurate the measurement. For the grower, the EC value of the nutrient medium that can be taken at the roots carries the most valuable information, so the values measured by the sensors are calculated with a calibrated value for each media type, displayed as a corrected value approximating the EC value for the plant. Accurate measurement requires that the medium is horizontal and under typical conditions in the plant housing.

Sensors at the DélKerTÉSZ producers

In 2016, the South KERTÉSZ experimentally built the AgroSense measuring network at the Szentlászló Foil Plant, which consisted of 1 base station and three production substations and connected combined (fluid humidity, temperature and EC) sensors. All three growers planted white peppers in a 7.5-inch foil tent, planted in late January. Two were produced on coir medium, in the third case on rockwool (Grodan) medium.

Producers' opinion

It was the unanimous opinion of the manufacturers that the sensors were useful. The foil keeps track of the temperature change well, irradiation data provides information and helps in irrigation planning. EC and fluid humidity values, daily and weekly trends provide good feedback in the evaluation of nutrient solutions. The web interface is very good, you can keep track of the values, you can look back at data from certain periods, and you can analyse them later. Cultivation becomes safer and the amount of nutrient and irrigation applied can be corrected more efficiently and accurately. The possibility of continuous monitoring of water capacity during the summer period was particularly significant. Irrigation missed due to a technical error can be controlled almost immediately.

Producers of DélKerTÉSZ use the AgroSense system to produce delicious peppers more efficiently!

Based on the experience of 2016 and the interest of the producer, additional instruments were deployed in 2017. The base station is extended by two additional repeater stations to collect data from a total of 14 AgroSense Nodes.

Advantages of AgroSense Scale

In 2017, we installed 3 self-developed slab scales, with the advantage that:

  • measures the change in total quilt mass, so irrigation can be monitored more reliably than with insertion sensors
  • they are thin in design so that plants placed on quilts have similar effects (eg floor heating)
  • drainage outlet for further measurements
  • adjustable soles adjust the ideal slope of the quilt
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