1. What metrics are important for cultivators to track?
There are many different parameters growers should record to determine the best strategy for specific cultivars in varying environmental conditions. Notes on how the plants develop and react to pruning, climate, and irrigation conditions will be critical to ensuring success. At every stage of growth, growers should take detailed notes on the root development speed, root quality, plant height, stem diameter, leaf/stem color, node spacing, the observations of the plants’ natural structure, in addition to measurements from the rootzone like water content (WC,) electrical conductivity (EC) and temperature in relation to climate conditions. All these parameters will help you determine the optimum plant spacing, irrigation/climate strategies, the timing of labor and amount required throughout the plant’s lifecycle. Collecting this information is a critical step to developing a uniform crop from batch to batch and season to season.
2. What are the most common challenges you see when growers convert to using more data?
The most common challenge I see when growers first get access to rootzone data would be that they start changing too many things all at once before gaining a good understanding of what they have been doing previously. Often growers want to know the ideal targets for WC and EC in the rootzone for each stage of growth and aim to hit those immediately. Unfortunately, that is not a simple answer, as cultivars usually have been selected because they preform best under the unique climate conditions that the grower had been providing them prior to having any insight into the rootzone. As such, it is best to record what you did previously and then make gradual adjustments to improve specific aspects like increasing growth speed or improving yield. By making small, gradual changes to irrigation, growers can determine the benefits or drawbacks of each change in order to tailor their strategies to what works best for their environments and genetics.
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