Blueberries as a superfood attract the most attention, due to their attractive health benefits. Multiple studies show that eating a daily serving of berries can help lower blood pressure and lower heart attack risk. In fact, in the United States berries account for around 20% of all fruit sales and the global berry market is projected to grow by 5.1% in the near future.
Berries are sensitive crops typically grown in cool climates with specific growing protocols. This makes moving production to warmer climates and increasing productivity difficult. Berry production carries other challenges as well, such as specific irrigation requirements, sensitivity to diseases and pests and low yields associated with open-field farming practices. Greenhouses provide the ideal environment and protection from adverse weather for growing blueberries.
See how Lankgele is growing high-quality blue berries season after season despite the climate extremes of South Africa
To meet these challenges head-on, Netafim's greenhouse department partnered with Vegtech, a Netafim subsidiary, to design the OptiGrow Polyhouse - the most cost-effective greenhouse structure for growing blueberries. This versatile design is also suitable for growing all kinds of flowers, and vegetables in a protected environment and assuring increased yields.
OptiGrow is a cost-effective structure designed with keeping in mind the specific requirements of berry crops and it complies with the latest European design standards.
It can withstand wind speeds of up to 108 km/h and features excellent ventilation capabilities for optimal growing environment. The mechanized thermo and shading screens help reduce heat inside the structure while allowing pollinating bees to operate inside the structure A wide span of 9.6m gives farmers easy access to berry picking without damaging the crops.
Quick and easy to install and easy to operate, Optigrow enables farmers to begin production in no time, ensuring a rapid ROI.
A 4ha OptiGrow structure was constructed by Vegtech for the Lebombo Group and is located in Lankgele in the Western Cape of South Africa.
The structure is complemented by automatic filters, a NetaJet 3G dosing system, a Netafim drip irrigation system and a UV water treatment system - all integrated and managed by Netafim’s latest Digital Farming Platform. Netafim provides expert agronomical support to ensure smooth operation.
OptiGrow is giving farmers more control over their berry crop, even in hot climates, while delivering high quality yields season after season.