Hydroponic cultivation achieves up to 50% higher yields in terms of kilos per hectare during the first year of production, compared to the same product in soil. Moreover, the plants become productive earlier when this system is used, making it possible to advance the grower's entry into the market.
These figures have been verified by Grupo Projar after more than eight years of experience and research in the main producing countries of North America, South America, Europe and Africa.
This growth in the production during the first year allows the grower to market a larger volume, and this, added to the earlier start, results in a higher profitability.
Thus, during the first year of production, hydroponic blueberry plantations yield up to 15,000 kg/ha, compared to the 10,000 kg/ha (at most) obtained from regular plantations. In the second one, the production reaches 20,000 kg/ha, compared to the 15,000 kg/ha of regular plantations, and in the third it stands at 20,000 kg/ha, compared to 18,000 kg/ha in soil.
The aspects that most influence the success of hydroponics are those such as the frequency of irrigation, which will vary depending on the conditions and the irrigation system, the climate, the type of water and the conductivity. Also fundamental are the pH of the substrate, the fertilization (it is important to have a fertigation plan), and the use of anti-weed discs, which are essential in very rainy areas.
Even though the most optimal level is reached in the second year, hydroponics allows the grower to market a sufficient production already in the first year. This entails a clear advantage for the producers, who will see an increase of the production, with more plants per hectare and a greater yield in the earlier stages. It should also be noted that hydroponic techniques make it possible to increase the number of plants per acreage unit.
Furthermore, hydroponic techniques are ideal in regions with heavy and basic soils and the substrates guarantee a high aeration capacity that favors the proper development of roots. The special containers designed for blueberries also facilitate the plants' correct growth, because it is a crop that is very sensitive to excess moisture, and with hydroponics, the perfect drainage is achieved.
According to Álvaro Villalba, Horticultural Commercial Director at Grupo Projar, the implementation of hydroponic cultivation allows "the plants' root system to develop faster than in soil, and you also achieve greater control and uniformity, which results in a more homogeneous production."