How To Use Smartphone To Increase Strawberry Yield
Strawberry production is one of the commercially profitable farming practices. However, not all strawberry farms get profits out of their strawberry yields. To make money out of your strawberries, you must pay attention to many cultural practices and aspects of farming. For example, now you have a range of tools, which may help you to use the best integrated pest management practices, digitise each season of your farming and increase strawberry yield and revenue.
Classic Method to Grow Strawberries
In brief, the botanical name of the common cultivated strawberry is “Fragaria × ananassa” or pineapple strawberry. It is a perennial hybrid plant of two species: the Chilean strawberry (which is also called the pine or beach strawberry) and the North American strawberry (known as the scarlet or Virginia strawberry). The first strawberry hybrid was created in 1750 in France. Since then hundreds of varieties have been selected and named worldwide. Depending on your climate and geographical location, budget and your plans, you need to carefully select the variety of strawberry to grow on your farm.
There are two main types of strawberries:
- June-bearing or summer strawberry plants usually only produce one vigorous crop of large but sweet juicy strawberries in summer.
- Ever-bearing strawberries will produce crops multiple times during the growing season. For example, traditionally the everbearing types produce two crops: the first one in early summer and the second in early autumn.
Methods to grow either June-bearing or everbearing strawberries are practically the same. The only difference between these strawberries is the time and manner in which they flower, and, as a result – harvesting time. For June-bearing type you will have only one harvest but for everbearing more than one (depending on your climate – two and more).
The third variety is day-neutral strawberries, available to harvest all year round. As a result, day-neutral strawberries are not significantly affected by changing seasons. Since it’s easy to manipulate them, many hydroponic and aquaponic farmers prefer this variety. The main benefit for day-neutral strawberries is all-year-round harvesting. If applying effective growing tactics it’s possible to increase strawberry yield production
There are also wild alpine varieties of strawberries to grow, however, they have smaller berries in comparison with hybrids.
Brief Instruction How To Grow Strawberries Traditionally
There are key aspects you must consider before planting your strawberries and setting up your farm (or just a plot).
Where is better to grow strawberries?
In fact, the choice of the variety of strawberry is the first step towards your own big or small strawberry farm. Then you need to choose the area to grow strawberries and remember: they thrive in a place with a lot of ventilation and drainage. Avoid damp, dark, cold, unventilated places. Good air circulation allows the berries to dry out faster, reducing the incidence of some diseases. Finally, for better cropping and easy access, it’s best to give your strawberries plenty of space.
Soil preparation for strawberry farming as a must
Then you need to think about soil and prepare it before you start planting your strawberries. Plant the strawberries in a well-drained soil that has a pH range between 5.5 and 6.5. Ideally, you need to know the pH of the soil since either strawberry seeds or plants – they grow better in rather acidic soil. However, most of the farmers don’t have this information. Hence, as general advice, you need to add in humus or compost and water it thoroughly to saturate with the necessary micro elements.
Which method of strawberry planting is better?
While you have chosen the variety of strawberry, you need to think about the method of planting as well. What’s better: to sow and plant the seeds from scratch or buy ready-to-plant strawberry plants? The simpler way, particularly for novice gardeners, is to start the process by buying strawberry plants, and then planting them. The runners for sale are available from late summer to early spring.
To grow strawberries starting from seeds is a more challenging method. Firstly, you need to buy strawberry seeds. Then in early autumn, you need to plant them directly into the soil.
How to plant strawberries into soil?
Planting strawberries is quite an easy process: make holes to put your strawberry plants there. The actual plant and leaves should be set atop the surface of the soil. At the same time, you need to be sure that the plant’s root system is not exposed to open air but covered. If you plant runners, then do this either in early autumn, or early spring but avoid planting in winter when the ground is wet.
What is the secret of the first season of strawberries?
People who grow strawberries commercially and for their own use, know the main secrets of these berries: their first season is quite poor in harvest. For example, the June-bearing plants usually produce little to no fruit in their first growing season.
You need to buy strawberry plants that are about 7 – 8 centimetres (3 inches) tall at your local garden centre. If you live in a colder climate, start your strawberry plants indoors. Before you can place the strawberry plants in the ground, you must prepare the soil. To prepare your soil, remove any rocks, sticks, and weeds. Also, it is recommended to add fertiliser to feed your plants.
How to care about strawberry plots?
There are three basic directions of care about strawberry plants. In particular, to increase strawberry yield and revenue you must organise strong integrated pest management (IPM) for your strawberry farm to avoid pest and weed intensification, water plants as well as provide appropriate mulching for strawberries.
Strawberry pests and weeds
In natural conditions, the biggest concerns are bird pecks and sneaky neighbours. Hence, you need to consider lightweight netting, which is cheap and easy to drape over your plants. Also, check for slugs. However, they are nocturnal animals. As a result, you won’t likely see them frequently and even application of agriculture drones won’t help. There are basic methods on how to handle them organically.
Also, you need to keep your bed weed-free, as strawberries do not like to compete for sunlight, moisture, or nutrients.
Water strawberry plots
Irrigation with a soaker hose or drip tape is a good idea since strawberries are shallow-rooted. If watering by hand you must keep the foliage dry and prevent splashing of soil onto the foliage and spreading diseases.
Mulching of strawberries
Mulching is one of the basic care processes in strawberry farming to increase strawberry yield.
There is one crucial process in strawberry farming, called mulching. It is important because mulching helps to avoid frost and control temperature regime for strawberry plants. Strawberry plants have to be mulched once or twice a year.
At the same time, the row or bed you plant in should remain heavily mulched with straw, old leaves, pine needles, or some other organic matter year-round. Also this helps with weed control and moisture retention.
Modern Innovations in Strawberry Farming
In the last three hundred years since the first hybrid of strawberry was created, millions of farmers have grown strawberries and continue to do this. However, the methods of growing strawberries have changed a lot. Additionally to traditional ways to grow these berries, now it is popular and profitable to grow strawberries in greenhouses and tunnels, using hydroponics and aquaponics as a soilless alternative for traditional methods to grow strawberries.
Advantages of Growing Strawberry in Greenhouse
An indoor growing system allows you to grow fruit and vegetables all year round. Strawberries are on the list as well. However, strawberry season varies from place to place. If you live in a climate where your strawberries ripen early, use the greenhouse to extend your season.
If you live in a climate with a late frost, a greenhouse can protect your strawberry crop.
You can find tons of facts about how to grow strawberries in greenhouse. However, you must keep in mind a couple of facts, which will help you to understand how the strawberry production is organised in greenhouses:
- Strawberries need plenty of sunlight and dry conditions in order to thrive, which is one of the great advantages of growing them under glass.
- Growing strawberries in a greenhouse or conservatory means they’ll fruit up to a month earlier than outdoor plants.
- Your greenhouse doesn’t need to have tropical temperatures. In fact, strawberries like it cool. For example, they prefer not less than 7° C (45°F) during the night and not more than 25° (77°F) at midday.
- Strawberry plants need at least 8 hours of sunlight daily, so make sure your greenhouse is optimally positioned. Also, ensure that your greenhouse windows are clean and not obstructed by anything that can block out any natural light.
- Greenhouses are traditionally built with an aluminium or metal frame glazed with glass or polycarbonate plastic. In comparison, polytunnels are mainly constructed from galvanised steel hoops and tightly covered with clear or diffused plastic.
a) Growing strawberries horizontally in polyethylene packages
One of the innovative method to grow strawberries and increase strawberry yield is to use polyethylene packages and place them horizontally.
With this method, the good strawberry varieties can produce up to three times the harvest from June to November. Cultivation of strawberries in horizontal plastic bags has many advantages.
For example, you can breed your favourite berries with no limits. Also you will get the harvest throughout the year. And, finally, you can increase strawberry yield depending on your method of farming, pest management and application of fertilisers. If the room to grow is quite spacious, you can put bags of seedlings of several levels.
To grow strawberries in polyethylene packages you will need:
- Plastic (polyethylene) bags with thickness of about 0.5 millimetres;
- The basis of the soil, organic fertilizer, peat;
- Seedlings of strawberry or runners;
b) Growing strawberries in plastic bags in a vertical way
Also, it is possible to grow strawberries vertically. Plastic bags with “pockets” are the most helpful for this farming.
c) Increase strawberry yield in pots and containers
Homeowners with small backyards or patio gardens can grow an assortment of strawberry produce using containers. Also, growing strawberries in containers may be for you if your soil is unsuitable for growing strawberries, you live in a high-rise apartment or condo where growing strawberries is not an option, or you don’t have an adequately deep garden area in which to grow strawberries and other plants.
Growing strawberries in containers, however, requires a somewhat different setup than growing them in the ground.Be sure, however, that the container is large enough to contain the mature plant.
One of the most popular methods is growing strawberries in pots. This method of cultivation is relevant for urban areas as well as other farming practices. However, it is not suitable for the sort that forms a very powerful root system and tall stems.
There is a range of pots in different shapes and sizes to grow strawberry for own family or for commercial purpose.
For planting strawberries in pots, it is necessary to prepare the substrate from 2 parts of peat, one part of perlite and 2 parts of sawdust.
Pots should be 18–20 cm in diameter, made of plastic or ceramic. Metal pots are not recommended for strawberry growing.
Planted strawberry bushes like for ordinary houseplants: put a layer of drainage on the bottom, fill the pot with a moistened substrate, carefully place the root system in the hole and sprinkle it with the substrate, lightly tamping it.
At the end of planting the plants need to be watered. It is important not to forget about the presence of a drain hole in the pot to remove excess moisture. Tips how to increase strawberry yield: pots should be made of plastic or ceramic, but not metal
d) Growing strawberries vertically or horizontally in PVC pipes
Finally, you can grow strawberries in PVC pipes. PVC pipes are non-toxic; their most common application is to manage plumbing and organise drainage. With PVC planters, you can grow strawberries vertically or horizontally, in containers suited for use as hanging planters, window boxes or porch railing adornments. PVC is inexpensive, and you can cut the pipes to the length you prefer.
Planting in PVC containers raises your plants off the ground, making it easier for you to work with and water the plants, and harvest the berries. Those with bad backs, difficulty bending or kneeling can access the planters with less trouble. You can conveniently cover the containers with netting to protect your berries from hungry birds. Also, you will rarely have to weed your strawberry patch, as the strawberry plants fully occupy the growing space.
Construction of PVC strawberry farm
Select PVC pipes rated for carrying potable water to create your planters. For growing strawberries vertically, you need to drill 1-inch holes in the walls of a piece of 6-inch-diameter PVC pipe.
For the first row of holes, it’s better to start at the bottom of the pipe. Drill a pair of holes directly opposite each other. Move up the length of the pipe 4 inches, and drill the next pair of holes at a 90-degree angle to the previous pair and repeat along the length of the pipe. This method will leave a distance of 8 inches between each hole in a vertical line.
You need to follow a specific pattern of holes to make a PVC strawberry planter. It will help to increase strawberry yield in future
Also, you nee to cement a PVC pipe cap over the bottom end of your vertical planter. Apply pipe cement in a well-ventilated area. Approximately 1 inch from the end of the pipe, ring the bottom of the pipe with a single row of 1/8-inch drainage holes to allow excess water to drain away from your plants, or drill drainage holes in the cap itself.
Additionally, you can drill a pair of 1/8-inch holes directly opposite each other and 1 1/2 inches from the top edge of the pipe, then insert a length of heavy wire to hang your planter
Watering of strawberries grown in PVC
You can water plants in the upper half of the PVC pipe through the top of the planter. However, to facilitate watering plants lower down inside vertical PVC pipes, it is better to add a 1-inch-diameter pipe cut a few inches longer than the pipe that serves as your planter.
This will allow you to add water through the smaller pipe into the planter to more effectively water the lower plants without over-watering them. In other words, you will have two pipes. One wider pipe will be the planter of strawberries but the smaller pipe will serve for watering.
In fact, you need to drill holes along the length of this smaller pipe, spacing the holes widely at the top — 6 inches apart — 3 inches apart near the centre and 1 inch apart at the bottom.
Drainage holes 1/8 inch in size should be completely fine.
Planting strawberries in PVC
To grow your plants and increase strawberry yield in PVC you need to choose a day-neutral variety of strawberry. The main reason for this is the production of runners, which is not so massive as for June-bearing varieties.
In other words, day-neutral varieties of strawberries produce fewer runners than June-bearing plants and perform better in containers.
To grow strawberries in PVC pipes, you must remember that this type of plant prefers a sandy loam soil. The good news is that you can DIY it easily.
In particularly, you can create your own soil blend by combining 2 parts soil, 1 part peat and 1 part sand. Also, if you add a slow-release fertiliser to the mixture, it will feed your plants evenly over time.
To plant in a vertical container, insert the small-diameter PVC pipe, and then add your plants as you add soil to the container, working your way up the length of the pipe from bottom to top.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Growing Strawberry in Tunnel
Tunnels (or polytunnels) produce a higher percentage of marketable yield than plants grown on open beds. Their aim is to extend the season, however, they have other benefits. For example, the use of poly-covered tunnels for crop protection provides protection from adverse weather.
Full list of advantages of tunnels include season extension (both early and late in the season), crop protection, higher yields, quality improvement, and better control of the growing environment. There is a range of low and high tunnels to grow strawberries.
Low tunnels are easy to install, low cost, temporary protective structures. They are well-adapted for annual day-neutral strawberry production. Also, they are more space efficient than high tunnels for these low-stature crops.
High tunnels are semi-permanent structures which look like greenhouses. However, there are two main differences between high polytunnels vs. greenhouses.
Firstly, high tunnels have passive heat and ventilation. Secondly, the crops grow directly in the soil but in a greenhouse you can practise different ways of growing. For example, the most popular ways are to grow strawberries in pots, polyethylene bags and plastic packages.
How to Grow Strawberry in Hydroponics and Get Profit
For strawberry crops, which are responsible for the largest product category in the berry range, a number of hydroponic methods are available. Hydroponics can help you to grow tasteful and big strawberries. One of the best methods for growing strawberries is hydroponics through greenhouse strawberry cultivation. The cultivation of strawberries in protected environments allows the reduction in the development of pests and plant diseases. Also the hydroponic system allows greater control over the amount of nutrients that the plant needs. Finally, it helps to optimise resources, generating significant savings.
What is hydroponics? This is soilless growing of crops. Hydroponics is a process of growing food in an inert medium by controlling and adding nutrients but without soil
With the cultivation of strawberries in the greenhouse (using hydroponic systems), it is possible to advance the dates of maximum production compared to traditional cultivation systems. Another great benefit is that you can also obtain higher production per square metre, since it allows us to increase the planting density.
In order to determine the system of most effective strawberry farming, you need to make a critical analysis of the parameters present at your farm. A gutter system first of all needs to enable a correct drainage and evacuation of the excess irrigation water. Secondly, it has to provide a good aeration of the root systems, while still preventing the plants from getting too wet.
There are four most common hydroponics systems in greenhouses to increase strawberry yield production.
Elevated hydroponics system for strawberries
One of the basic systems is the traditional elevated system, with the crops and their gutter fixed on poles. Production height varies between 100 and 120 centimetres. At the same time, the fixed space between the gutters is approximately 100 cm.
Hanging hydroponics for strawberries
In hanging hydroponic system for strawberries the gutters are hung in trellis system. This model helps to increase the strawberry yield and farming production by freeing ground of obstacles.In hanging hydroponic system for strawberries the gutters are hung in trellis system
The hanging system also has fixed space between the gutters, which is about 100 cm.
However, in this case the gutters are hung in trellis system that is attached to the greenhouse structure.
The advantage of this raised system is the ease of installation, and moreover the uniformity of the slope and drainage gradient. Another advantage is that the ground is completely free of obstacles, allowing easy cleaning and ground cover replacements.
Hydroponics technology helps to increase strawberry yield significantly and is applied for farming with scalable production.
Swinging hydroponics for strawberries
A more progressive set up for strawberry farming is the swinging system. In this situation the space between the crop rows can be adjusted. It allows space out the gutters from 80 cm to up to 100 centimetres, allowing workers to pass through and access the crops when needed. The main advantage of such a system is that the amount of crops per square metre can be increased and less production space is required.
Lifting system for hydroponics to increase strawberry yield
An even more progressive set up is an oscillating or lifting system. The lift system allows for a maximum plant density, as it separates the gutters as little as 50 centimetres. When working with the crop, some of the gutters (the even lines) go up, and the opposing lines (the odd lines) go down to the desired work height. It makes harvesting easier.
How to Use Aquaponics to Grow Strawberry
Recently, it has become quite popular to grow strawberries using aquaponics. Strawberries typically grow very well in soilless environments. Aquaponics for strawberries provides a sufficient nutrient environment to grow plants and increase strawberry yield and revenue.
What is Aquaponics? It is the method of growing crops and fish together in a recirculating system. In fact, aquaponics is an integration of two systems – hydroponics and aquaculture
Advantages of aquaponics for strawberry farming
- Aquaponics system for strawberry growing allows to reduce labour costs and number of people involved in production and harvesting.
- The core aspect of strawberry farming with an aquaponic system is ability to manage nutrients and control effluent mitigation.
- Due to efficient use of nutrients, the plant grows two times faster than with other methods of growing.
- It is possible to organise year-round production. Simultaneously, there is a prolonged individual plant life.
- Aquaponics allow a 75% smaller farming footprint when growing strawberries since less space required per plant.
- There is a huge reduction of water consumption of around 90% in comparison with other methods of strawberry growing.
- Control of the aquaponic system allows to eliminate soil pathogens and reduce risk of weeding.
- It is possible to manage the plant’s height and control the growth.
Disadvantages of growing strawberry in aquaponic farm
However, strawberry farming on an aquaponic system is a highly innovative method to improve strawberry yield, there are several problems with this method.
- Unfortunately, the aquaponics system for strawberries has a higher initial cost over raised beds and hydroponics. Particularly, this disadvantage is the most noticeable for the setting up stage. For example, to fill up water tanks with water and to build a small-size circular system (such as a greenhouse, pumps etc.) requires around a thousand of US dollars.
- As a separate point – you must have climate control and lighting, which requires not only money for installation but also require maintenance support and will generate bills for electricity.
- Most of the countries have “environmental permits“. This is a type of licence for farms, which have aquaculture (including aquaponics) components. This government regulation differs between the countries but adds a bit of bureaucracy in strawberry farming with aquaponic methods.
- It is quite difficult to manage the economically reasonable prices for strawberry production (as well as fish production) to be competitive market prices.
Essentials to set up Aquaponics Strawberry Farm
To make your own aquaponics farm to grow strawberries you need the following essential things and choose the setup parameters:
- Media Beds use containers filled with rock media such as gravel or expanded clay (hydroton) to support the roots of plants. The bed is flooded and drained of nutrient rich water to give the plants the nutrients and oxygen they need.
- Vertical Grow Towers are attractive because you can have crops effectively growing above each other.
- Finally, the use of the nutrient film technique (NFT) is a hydroponic technique where in a very shallow stream of water containing all the dissolved nutrients required for plant growth is re-circulated past the bare roots of plants in a watertight gully. These gullies are also known as channels.
Also, you must know a couple of basic aspects about aquaponics farming to increase strawberry yield production.
Temperature for Strawberry Aquaponics
In fact, strawberries grow better in cooler temperatures, which are between 15 – 26°C (or 60-80°F). That’s a fairly broad range which should make it very easy to choose your fish, virtually any fish will be comfortable in these temperatures.
IMPORTANT: the air temperature is more important for the successful flowering of this plant; and the ultimate fruit. While the daytime temperature is acceptable between 16 – 25°C (60-80°F), the nighttime temperature can be allowed to drop to 12 – 13°C (or 55°F). At the same time, lower temperature will reduce the speed at which strawberry plants develop. However, it may help the fruit to become larger.
pH level of water
One of the most important water quality variables in aquaponics systems is pH. It stands for the power of hydrogen, and refers to the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution.
Some practitioners suggest that strawberry plants do best when water pH level is between 5.5 and 6.5. Otherwise, if water is too acidic, the plant will die.
This pH level is completely acceptable for some fish. Tilapia fish, for example, require pH to be in the range of 5.0 to 10.0. But nitrifying bacteria perform better at pH levels greater than 7.5. In fact, they basically stop working when pH levels fall below 6.
As a result, the compromise that is optimal to all three components of an aquaponics system—fish, plants, and nitrifying bacteria — must be maintained between 6.4 and 7.4 it will be tolerable to all three components of the system. To grow strawberries on aquaponic system, the pH level of water must be between 6.4 and 7.4.
It will help to maintain plants, fish and bacteria as well as to increase strawberry yield
Fish Types for Strawberry Aquaponics
One of the easiest types of fish to farm in aquaponics is tilapia. The main advantage of this fish is its tolerance to changes of water quality. However, there are other fish types that can be a good fit to strawberry plants in the aquaponics method, in particular, koi, carp, and crappie.
Gravel can be used if you choose to grow strawberries in a media bed.
At the same time, a more effective method is using a vertical tower or NFT technique.
Planting of Strawberries on Aquaponics
The only reasonable plants for strawberry farms on aquaponic are seedlings. You should not grow strawberries from seed since it will take up to three years before the first harvest.
Harvest of Strawberries
On aquaponics, berries are usually ready four to six weeks after blossoming. The fresh strawberries should be picked when they’re red. At the same time, traditionally they do not ripen altogether. As a result, the frequency to harvest strawberries on aquaponics is every two or three days.
How to Increase Strawberry Yield with a Smartphone
Growing method is important for strawberry farming. However, there is one more component which is crucially relevant for any type of technique to increase strawberry yield and revenue. This is data.
It goes without saying that you want to produce high yields of quality fruit with sufficient flexibility to meet market demands and labour availability. We can help to make core processes of your strawberry business data-driven.
Data-driven strawberry farming is a modern way of growing strawberries. It does not matter whether it is grown in a greenhouse or polytunnel. Data about strawberry plants is a vital component for hydroponics and aquaponics farmers to monitor and manage their crops.
Data-driven strawberry farming is the system of using data about strawberry plants to supplement on-farm precision agriculture – using the right data about strawberry plants, at the right time and in the right formats to make better decisions to increase strawberry yield and revenue.
There are numerous questions related to data-driven strawberry farming but the most important of them are:
- How can a smartphone help to grow strawberries?
- Do drones and artificial intelligence improve the strawberry grower’s experience in smart greenhouse?
- How AI-based strawberry breeding could be key to next-gen innovations in this area?
- Why does a strawberry farmer need to have more data about own plants?
- How do mobile applications can be helpful at strawberry greenhouses and in the field?
- Is it possible to count strawberry flowers with a smartphone?
- How to assess the greenness of strawberry leaves with a mobile application?
Smart farming solutions to Increase Strawberry Yield
Commercial strawberry farming business requires not only a detailed cultivation plan with market, instructions how to grow, which soil and manure to use, and when to harvest. Growing strawberries now is not the same as ten or twenty years ago. To get your profit you need to have information about your strawberry growth, captured in real time.
There are different types of smart farming applications and solutions to improve strawberry performance. They can be basically divided into hardware and software applications.
This is how smartphone in agriculture works. Mobile technologies, as a part of software for strawberries, can significantly improve strawberry production through reducing inputs and increasing efficiency – just give a smartphone to each agronomist in a greenhouse
Hardware applications for strawberries
Hardware applications for strawberry farming allow to collect and exchange data about strawberry plants using special devices and appliances. The most popular of them are:
- sensors, as a part of Internet of Things (IoT) in smart farming,
- drones and other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to monitor plants,
- hand-held devices to measure parameters of growth and development of strawberry plants, flowers and fruits;
- complex hardware systems for strawberry production (for example, smart containers to grow strawberries, climate control systems or hydroponics and aquaponics hardware systems)
Software applications to increase strawberry yield
There are dozens of mobile applications and PC software to help farmers to plan, monitor and analyse all activities related to strawberry business easily.
Some of these software applications provide direct support. For example, you can count the number of flowers and strawberries if you grow them in a greenhouse. Other solutions are helpful in monitoring strawberry plants' health by accurately measuring leaf area index or checking the greenness of strawberry leaves.
Additionally, there are software solutions for strawberry business, which can help to organise daily activities and indirectly support strawberry farmers. They focus not on strawberry plants performance but on surrounding conditions and factors of the environment.
Crop scouting of strawberries has to be digitised to collect and analyse key parameters of plant growth (like leaf area index and chlorophyll content) as well as the growing environment in more effective way
For example, crop scouting of strawberry fields or greenhouses with a smartphone improves productivity of staff and increases strawberry yield at the end of the season. There is a range of mobile applications, which help to “memorise” information about environmental conditions, pest and weed control, applied chemicals, etc. Additionally, it is possible to share this information among agronomists and staff to keep them updated about potential risks for strawberry production. Importantly, most of them are free of charge unless you are a multi-billion strawberry business.
Example of Strawberry Toolbox in Smartphone
Let’s imagine that you don’t have time and budget for installation of expensive sensors or buy a drone to fly over your strawberry plants. At the same time, understanding the importance of data about your plants, you want to try and compare the benefits of traditional strawberry farming and data-driven strawberry business.
The good news is that having a smartphone is enough to start collecting and analysing data about strawberries either in the field or in a greenhouse. This means that visual assessment of strawberry plants should not be the key factor when you make decisions about fertilising plants, pest control or forecasting strawberry yield.
The bad news is that you cannot buy the cheapest second-hand smartphone and expect high accuracy of your data collection. In other words, you need to have an average smartphone with a price tag around 30 – 100 USD with OS Android to monitor the basics about strawberry growth and development. At the same time, buying an average smartphone is an investment in your time and money savings. For example, more data about your strawberry plants performance can prevent any type of nutrient deficiency or partial loss of yield because of lower numbers of labour involved in harvesting.
Leaf area index (LAI) in strawberries helps to understand the dynamics of plant growth and development. LAI can be measured with a smartphone to increase strawberry yield.
As a result, typical strawberry toolbox in a smartphone includes the following components:
- Leaf Area Meter to measure leaf area index (LAI) of strawberry plants;
- Greenness Meter (or Chlorophyll Content Meter) to get information about chlorophyll content in strawberry leaves;
- Berry Counter to get the numerical data about the number of strawberries on plants with a smartphone camera.
Leaf Area Index to Increase Strawberry Yield and Revenue
Leaf Area Index Meter helps you to get data about your Strawberry leaves. It supports you in helping your strawberries to meet marketing criteria. The topic of leaf area index measurement for strawberries is huge. In fact, you have a choice to buy a hand-held leaf area metre, mentioned above, or use a mobile application.
Depending on your budget and needs, your answer will be different. However, as of now, more people prefer to save thousands of dollars when using a mobile application for a smartphone than buy a single-purpose tool, which is expensive and bulky. By the way, you can always get leaf area index using PC software, for example ImageJ, but it is time consuming and not so user-friendly as most mobile applications for leaf area index.
Recent scientific research confirmed that it is possible to rapidly recognise strawberry maturity with over 94% of accuracy, using just a smartphone. Our own practice shows that smartphones can help with one more task in strawberry farming, particularly, counting strawberry flowers and berries.
Greenness Meter and Dark Green Colour Index for Strawberry
To monitor and analyse chlorophyll content in strawberry leaves, you don’t need to buy a SPAD (Soil and Plant Analysis Development) metre. Again, price tag for these devices is high and there is no affordable hand-held SPAD meters for strawberry farming.
At the same time, mobile applications can help to get Dark Green Colour Index (DGCI), which is correlated to SPAD index values. This is one of the parameters of strawberry leaves to identify current “wellbeing” of the plants. Monitoring Dark Green Colour Index with a smartphone camera can help you with early identification of strawberry disease.
More information about Dark Green Colour Index is discussed on our Youtube channel
Berry Counter for Strawberries
As we have mentioned, Berry Counter counts berries and can help to both – farmers who grow in a greenhouse and farmer with a polytunnel. Again – all you need is a smartphone with a good camera.
How does Berry Counter work? Ideally, you have a rail along the strawberry bed and it will be easy to put a smartphone on a robot or any machine moving along this rail. There is a scientific proof of effectiveness in this scheme.
However, we understand that the expensive robotic system for strawberry farming is not affordable not only for individual farmers. It is not possible to buy this innovation even for small and medium-sized enterprises. Hence, we have adjusted the strawberry counters to real life circumstances. As a result, berry counter can work with low-cost technologies.
In other words, you can count fruits in motion when you are walking between the strawberry rows, holding a smartphone in your hand.
At the same time, to make the process more efficient as well as for longer distances, it is recommended to fix a smartphone on another object. For example, it can be a wooden stick, selfie-stick or just a side of any moving transport like a scooter or a bike. Otherwise, you can use Berry Counter in a smartphone when indoor drones are inspecting crops inside the strawberry greenhouse.
In other words, the most important thing is the distance. In small strawberry beds you can manage to use Berry Counter with your hands. But on larger scale, you need a bit of mechanisation or in better case scenario – appropriate automatisation.
Smartphone can help you to increase strawberry yield. For example, by forecasting future harvesting. You can freely walk along the row with your smartphone and get the number of strawberries instantly.
More details about Strawberry Toolbox and Yield Prediction
If you ready to use more data when making decisions about your strawberry business or are interested in more details about Strawberry Toolbox and yield prediction with a smartphone, then drop us a message. We’ll be more than happy to help you to provide you with more details about leaf area index measurement, chlorophyll content measurement and strawberry counter to increase strawberry yield of your farming business.