The first webinar of our spring series, ‘What is the secret of growing strawberries in TCEA’, presented by Katia Zacharaki of Digital Farming was a great success. While not giving away every single secret, the content is a great starting point to encourage discussion amongst peers and covers a wide range of topics that speak at length about all the fundamentals of successfully growing strawberries inside a TCEA (Total Controlled Environmental Agriculture).
Katia gives a brief overview of the strawberry market in the UK, a market where strawberries are an incredibly popular berry and yet are for the most part only grown outside or inside a poly-tunnel environment. This means that they are imported from afar out of season, an ideal scenario would be to grow them locally all-year-round indoors as a more sustainable solution.
Growing strawberries in a TCEA is until now somewhat uncharted territory and one that Katia is looking to answer in her PhD (with Harper Adams University) on the subject. As the webinar succinctly points out growing strawberries indoors isn’t without its challenges from plant propagation, pest control management, pollination, labour costs to finding viable business models for growers. However, when compared to the benefits of having equally if not more nutritious, delicious strawberries available here in the UK all year round. It's clear that as an industry, these challenges are worth addressing.
An engaging Q&A at the end of the presentation brought up many interesting questions from does a TCEA bring a more viable yield, to the comparison of sugar content of the fruit and what pollinating bees need to live a happy productive life.
If your curious as to the challenges of indoor pollination, light quality, or potential business models of growing Strawberries in a TCEA then be sure to watch the webinar that is now available here on-demand.