An example of successful premium quality production of berries can be found only about 60 kilometers away from Belgrade, on mount Kosmaj, there is a company named “AGROBEL” that we visited to see and learn firsthand how this farm operates successfully in the sector – production of berries. The farm is located at 20 ha and its main activity is the production and sale of berries – premium quality. Each plantation or farm is a kind of “open-air factory”, therefore a very important factor for a successful business and the creation of good crops is that it should not depend too much on the weather conditions. That is why this plantation combines tradition, i.e. traditional production methods with modern information technology in the service of agriculture.
Premium quality fruits
“This is a true Hi-tech plantation” points out Olivera Lukačević, director of sales for AVITAL DOO in Belgrade, “and emphasizes that it produces a variety of crops – from berries to hazelnuts.” As these plant species require special technologies of irrigation and fertilization dosage, it is necessary to create such a system that would allow all this and meet the needs of each of these plant species. Plantation “AGROBEL” is certainly a good example of a combination of science, tradition, technology, ideas, knowledge, experience, and definitely, a good organization and desire to offer the best quality in the market for the production of berries, or as the name says – Premium quality.
AVITAL – design of irrigation systems
“Collaboration with other companies is desirable for the entire production process to be successful. One such company is AVITAL DOO, which, in 2017, designed and installed the entire centralized irrigation system, which makes us very pleased with how it was done. Good and quality irrigation affects the production and special requirements of these plants, ”points out Miloš Kljajić, AGROBEL Production Manager. All designed systems are connected to a fertilizer dosing system that can be activated manually or automatically. Also, there is a meteorological station that monitors all the essential elements for a plantation – precipitation, winds, temperature, as well as an annual weather report. Such a complex system provides information with which significant factors can be predicted: the occurrence of certain diseases and other changes related to microclimatic conditions. The entire system is additionally supplied with sensors in the soil that provide information on the required amount of water at any given time.
Functioning of irrigation and dosing water and fertilizer
The entire irrigation system operates in a centralized way, which means that everything is controlled from one central point (the so-called “system head”), with complete control of irrigation and fertilization. The system accepts water from a nearby lake and it passes through a system of sedimentation filters, thus purifying its delivery to the place where it’s irrigated area. In this way, the entire system is stored and maintained efficiently, providing it with long service life. “The system is” – emphasizes Oliver Lukačević, “equipped with EC and pH control devices, which is very important for some crops, such as blueberries, which require absolutely accurate dosing of pH and adjustments as well as EC control.” All these elements provide premium blueberry quality.
An important factor in growing blueberries is that the plantation has good micro-climatic conditions, which is why AVITAL DOO has a pulsed sprayer system and when the temperature is higher than desirable, in this way it is reduced by several degrees, creating favorable conditions for growing blueberries. Each irrigation system is adapted to each crop and can go underground such as hazelnut irrigation systems where the so-called “Drippers” resistant to clogging are used so that the whole system gives a very precise amount of water to each plant.
IT in the irrigation system
The whole irrigation system is remote, that is information technology is applied, thus following the global trends in the agro-industry where the inevitable factor is the use of mobile phones in controlling the entire system. Remote irrigation systems help users because they allow for the registration of all data and give a picture of the state of the plantation in real-time or at the time of viewing. In this way, with just one click on their mobile device, the users can have immediate information about the fertilizer status in each tank, the amount of water leaked per valve, and it should be emphasized that any error and irregularity in the system operation is immediately alerted. That way, the user can react quickly when certain situations arise. The great importance of the application of IT technology in irrigation systems is to store all data on the basis of which further analyses can be made regarding the amount of water and fertilizers, but also can be made forecasts on the basis of these data for the next season.
The whole process of growing and producing berries has several stages and each stage must be well organized (professionally and technically) so that a premium quality product is delivered to the final consumer. This implies that in addition to a well-designed irrigation system, there is also good logistics, i.e. further processing of products – delivery and storing to cold storage. Finally, the product has to find its way to the end consumer and this is where the promotion and branding of the product take place as well as detailed market analysis and requirements for this type of product.