The variety of indoor blooming and spring crops at Meyers Fruit Farms and Greenhouses has grown considerably over the last 10 to 15 years, and this has created several new challenges. In early 2016, we invested
in a system to make at least a part of the process a little simpler.
As the Head Grower, I wanted to be able to give each crop the best mix possible at any given time. The pressure on the sticking and planting lines required several lines to be running at the same time, but as a grower, I wanted them to be running with different soil mixes.
A central delivery system developed with Peter Van den Bos of Niagara Conveyor Systems and built by Martin Stolze in Holland was designed out of a need to give each crop the right mix at the right time, without the extra complexity and space requirements of mixing soil. It was set up to keep the dosage bunkers and soil consolidated in one area. Now, one line can be running a higher porosity mix at the same time as another is running a mix with a lower pH, while a third line is running a mix with a higher pH. Additional benefits include the ability to add beneficial mites or biological fungicides in-line and attain appropriate moisture levels prior to the soil mix reaching the planting line.
Each of the three planting lines are set up to pull from any of the three dosage bunkers. At the central panel, the operator must assign a dosage bunker to a planting line with the desired mix for the crop they are planting and basically press “play.”
As a grower, I can better line up each crop with a mix that fits that crop’s needs at any given time of the year. Not only am I able to give each crop what it needs or adjust to those needs on the fly, I have also made the job easier for the production team running the planting lines, as they have the tools to manage the system more easily.