Priority 1: Increase the production season and regional diversity of U.S. strawberry production

A YouTube-based video channel demonstrating hydroponic troughs as year-round sustainable strawberry production systems

 

Project Leader

  • Michael Evans, University of Arkansas, Department of HorticultureMichael Evans

Project Collaborators

  • Elena Garcia, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service
  • Donn Johnson, University of Arkansas, Department of Entomology
  • Craig Rothrock, University of Arkansas, Department of Plant Pathology
  • Chris Higgins, Hort Americas

Project Summary

The use of hydroponic trough systems in high tunnels and polyethylene greenhouses provides growers with a means of sustainably growing strawberries year-round. However, the vast majority of strawberry production is in ground or field situations and most growers do not have the detailed knowledge or experience using hydroponic trough systems to be able to take advantage of the benefits they provide. The focus of this project was to demonstrate these systems and to use video to teach commercial growers how to build, maintain and operate hydroponic trough systems placed in high tunnels and greenhouses to sustainably produce strawberries. Demonstration hydroponic and soilless strawberry production systems were assembled in greenhouses at the University of Arkansas for public viewing and a series of instructional YouTube videos were created to provide growers with free access to information on hydroponic strawberry production. By using hydroponic systems to produce strawberries, growers are able to more efficiently manage water and fertilizer, eliminate disease and weed pressure, reduce pesticide inputs, extend the harvest season and increase production per unit area.

M evans strawberries Project Outcomes and Impacts

Demonstration hydroponic strawberry facilities were assembled at the University of Arkansas to use for education and training. In addition, 12 instructional videos were produced for the project YouTube channel, which featured the University of Arizona hydroponic strawberry greenhouse and Arizona project leader, Mark Kroggel. By the conclusion of this project there were more than 1,800 views of the videos on the YouTube channel, with 60 subscribers and numerous requests from growers for more information. Two field days were held at the University of Arkansas where a total of 30 people came to the greenhouses and toured the hydroponic and soilless strawberry production system. Dr. Evans presented on the project at the Cultivate'14 AmericanHort meetings in Columbus, Ohio, in June 2014, where a total of 52 growers attended the presentation. In addition to the strong interest from growers, seven greenhouse companies have indicated that they will branch into hydroponic strawberries or expand their current production. This project has shown that the interest in these hydroponic strawberry production systems far exceeds the amount of information currently available to growers in the U.S., and has begun to bridge that gap by providing research-based information in an easily accessible video format.

Websites

Presentations

Video Channel Demonstrating Hydroponic Troughs as Year-round Sustainable Strawberry Production Systems