The characteristic feature of Gerbera horticulture is the enormous variety of colours in the greenhouse. Each colour, however, represents a different species, with specific needs in terms of water dosing and fertilisation. Controlling by drain percentage is very important in the cultivation of Gerberas. Quality is the number one priority for Marius Mans of Mans Flowers in Brakel. The availability of modern measurement and control instruments such as the Priva Connext is therefore of critical importance.
At Mans Flowers, water is supplied precisely, based on the transpiration of the plant. Grower Marius Mans believes controlling by drain percentage is extremely important. The drain water is collected, heated and recycled, because sustainability is a distinctive feature of this horticultural company. By sampling the return drain water, it is possible to assess how much water and food is actually being absorbed by the plant. This is then used to determined the food and water dosage. "This is our most important control tool for optimum growth. We know what settings work best for us. We use average control values - with 33 different species we don't really have any other choice - but if necessary we can adjust the recipe."
Monitoring is the key word at Mans Flowers. Measuring the drain figure gives the grower an insight into the absorption of water by the plant and the degree of flush-through. "Accumulation of salt in the pot indicates insufficient flush-through. In that case, the plant will not be receiving enough water. The drain figure also varies from day to day, e.g. under the influence of the amount of sunlight. We must therefore constantly keep our finger on the pulse."
At Mans Flowers, there are many different species in the greenhouse. The company has installed a valve set equipped with a pressure gauge for every two covers. The pressure-compensated drippers ensure that every plant in the greenhouse now receives the same quantity of water. "Roots are the engine of the plant", emphasises Marius Mans. "Good roots produce a strong plant with healthy growth. This is precisely why correct water dosage is essential."