Shipherd Nurseries Ltd. is a family-owned and operated cut flower nursery specializing in roses and gerberas and is located in Pukekohe, New Zealand. The family-run operation has been around for over more than 30 years and spans more than 19,000 square meters covering approximately 50 different races.
Frans van Dorsser is the owner and operator of Shipherd and started 12 years ago. “Most rewarding thing about growing cut flowers is getting it right. It’s not easy, there are a lot of variables you’re dealing with regarding climate and IPM. Overwatering is harmful to both the roots and flowers, and knowing when and how to optimize moisture dry downs is key to getting the best possible product.”
With the New Zealand cut flower industry being under pressure, it’s of the essence that growers like Van Dorsser have a minimum amount of waste during the production process while optimizing the usage of precious resources like water and fertilizer. Getting more insights into the microclimate conditions of the flower helps Shipherd getting more control. So Van Dorsser started digitizing some of many metrics that are affecting the roses, amaryllis, and gerberas It’s been utilizing 30MHz’s soil moisture sensors during the last growing season which provide real-time (i.e. every 60 seconds) insights on the substrates’ EC, moisture content and soil temperature measurements.
And with success. By getting information from the 30MHz sensors the irrigation strategy was significantly changed. Specifically, the moisture content readings allowed Van Dorsser to stop irrigating at the most optimal times. When asked about what gave him the confidence to do so, Van Dorsser’s answer is clear: “The fact that the 30MHz sensors are wireless and produce quality real-time readings allows me to easily move them throughout the greenhouse to inevitable varying trouble-spots. The software is very easy to use and gives me a clear indication on when to act. For a small investment, I am seeing the returns tenfold both financially but also through increased peace-of-mind.”