‘We know if a crop needs water, when it needs water and how much water it needs. We don’t need a probe to tell us…’

Nick tells of the problems associated with some of the new technology in horticulture. When watering crops every day, Nick feels the built-up knowledge is better than a probe. Technology, Nick feels, is impractical, expensive and inferior to a pair of experienced eyes.

We tried to use systems in fields to monitor water, to monitor dry soils, but we find that they’re too, much hard work to follow. When you need computers is too difficult to do training and we’ve tried it even in the polytunnel…Probes…but we’re walking crops, every day, and we know that if that crop needs more water, when it needs water, and how much water it needs. We don’t need a probe to tell us. Our crops are very short. It’s not the case of, don’t do it today, do it tomorrow. It needs to be done today and if we’ve got to rely on a probe to tell us that, it’s not going to work. I sometimes feel the technology a lot of people are trying to introduce into what we’re doing, it’s just pointless. Apart from being very expensive. It’s just pointless because you have to physically go and see the crop with your eyes to know what it needs. We’re looking at a new hydroponic system which again, is that another big water saving system we’re looking at. It is growing lettuce and it’s going to be saving 80% water usage.

That will hopefully be live for next year. We’re waiting for planning permission now, it’s one huge way of saving water, but it’s all down to money. It’s a big investment. It’s a hectare. It’s a million pound investment. And not everybody can go out and spend a million pound. We’re having to borrow a million pound to do it, but we’re hoping that it will entice our customers to want the product out of that tunnel, not out of the field. I mean, there’s people- at Cranfield -they’re going on about GPS water in fields and all this. Yeah, if you’re running one or two booms, you’ve got time to sit with your phone, that’s fine. We’re running 40 booms here in the summer. I haven’t got time for people to stand by machines, looking at computers and phones because otherwise, the job wouldn’t get done. So they just not practical things for me that could be used day-to-day.

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