Huelva's second-degree cooperative Onubafruit is hosting a highly technological vertical strawberry cultivation pilot project developed by Telefónica and Vertical Green, which will allow remote control of all production parameters.
The strawberries will be grown without substrate, on vertical walls within closed containers. The data of the variables involved in the production process, such as temperature, humidity or lighting, will be collected through high precision Internet of Things (IoT) sensors placed in the crops. These devices are connected to central servers through data networks that are managed from Telefónica's IoT platform, Kite Platform. By means of algorithms, it becomes possible to determine the ideal amount of nutrients, photosynthetic radiation, irrigation and atmospheric values for each crop in each growth phase.
This database will help producers improve their harvests and ensure the best cultivation parameters, without the need to use fertilizers and without worrying about the weather.
"At Onubafruit, we want to see the potential of vertical production to improve the crop in terms of quality, supply, efficiency and sustainability," says Marco Vaz, head of R&D at the cooperative. "In a globalized market, with growing competition in terms of production and the opening of new destination countries, differentiation is becoming essential to grow and ensure a promising future for Onubafruit producers and cooperatives."
In the framework of the pilot project, day-neutral varieties will be grown, controlling the amount of hours of light that are applied to the plant during the day. "We are going to study the viability of growing a quality strawberry and, once that objective has been achieved, we will aim for others, such as striving for more interesting production cycles for the product's sale," he says.
For her part, Telefónica's IoT and Video solutions manager, María Eugenia Bórbore, said that “together with Vertical Green, we have developed a comprehensive solution that is allowing us to connect objects thanks to Telefónica's Narrow Band IoT network. We are aiming for the production plant to be as automated as possible, so that the producer can control it remotely.”
“The producers now have a tool that will allow them to relocate their productions and de-seasonalize them. It is all about growing in controlled spaces, which reduces the environmental impact and the consumption of water, achieving a high-density, sustainable production in small areas,” says Hugo Scagnetti, CEO of Vertical Green. "We are talking about producing the same amount of vegetables as in 10,000 m² of land in just 90 m²."