More accurate than my gut feeling

The tomato grower Den Berk Délice in Rijkevorsel, Belgium introduced ten CARA MET sensors in the spring of 2020. With the new insights, growing manager Lucas Aertsen soon realised that he needed to adjust his irrigation strategy.

The location in Rijkevorsel has nearly 10 hectares of cherry and cocktail tomatoes under lighting. Until last year, the irrigation at the company was controlled on the basis of knowledge and experience, supplemented with weight measurement data, says growing manager Lucas Aertsen.
“There had been sensors on the market for a long time, of course, and we’d actually worked
with some of them in the past. But earlier generations were quite susceptible to fouling, so
they weren’t very reliable. You had to keep checking them and that’s really not what you
want when you buy a sensor.”

Detailed picture
Aertsen says that their experiences with the CARA MET sensor of SenseNL are much more positive. In the spring of 2020, Den Berk Délice started using one base station with ten sensors. To get a better understanding of both the system and the dynamics of the water balance inside the slabs, they were spread across just two slabs. “That’s not how it’s supposed to be, of course, but it gave me a very detailed picture of what happens in those two slabs through the day. During the hot spell in May/June, I soon discovered that the EC in the slab was structurally much higher around midday than I myself had thought. So the sensors are more accurate than my gut feeling. In that kind of weather, I normally start reducing the dose size at half past one, but the data I obtained made me decide to wait a bit longer.”

Aertsen is now convinced that the tomatoes have performed better with the CARA MET sensors than they would have without them. Last year the sensors were mainly used to gain knowledge and experience. Now the sensors have all been allocated their own slab, spread across the section. “This is a new learning phase, but by now I’m confident enough to rely on the data. These slab sensors give me a lot more certainty. They’re a useful tool for making sound decisions, so that the crop can perform even better.”

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