Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence

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2015 Regional Award Winner


Perfect Patch Strawberries

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MPP Chris Ballard and Nico Verhoef

MPP Chris Ballard and Nico Verhoef

Ontario's strawberry growers are facing some tough challenges: cheap imports, high production costs and diseases that reduce their yields. So Nico Verhoef set about developing a better way to grow local berries. He filled raised troughs with coco coir and planted continuously producing strawberries. Because the troughs are above ground, the crop stays drier, reducing the spread of disease and hence the need for pesticides. But Verhoef's masterstroke was putting those troughs on variable-speed belts. Now the strawberries can come to workers instead of the other way round, creating far more pleasant and efficient working conditions. At $50,000 an acre, the system isn't cheap. However, it increases plant density by 70 per cent and shaves 30 per cent off the harvesting time - berry impressive results indeed.

Creation Date: 06 November 2015
Last Reviewed: 09 November 2015