With the impressive transition from outdoor strawberries to crops in polytunnels, the possibilities for climate control are increasing for Erdbeerhof Osterloh. “A climate computer is indispensable today,” he says. “But,” he adds immediately, “green fingers are still very important.” He cannot go a day without his process computer, the Priva Connext, but here too his knowledge and experience are essential. Osterloh derives that intuition and deft touch from the Netherlands. The well-known Dutch strawberry grower, Jan Robben, spends several months on the German strawberry farm during the season.
This external knowledge is used, among other things, in the fight against diseases and pests. As little as possible and as early as possible, that is Osterloh’s philosophy when it comes to using crop protection agents in the polytunnels. “Of course, we use bumblebees and we are working more and more with natural pesticides.” There are many other challenges with outdoor cultivation, especially soil diseases. At present, they are controlled by means of crop rotation, with crops such as African marigolds (Tagetes), but Osterloh has plans to fumigate the soil on a large scale. “I have seen good results with that. We are currently looking at how best to organize it. In comparison with crop rotation, it will save on costs.”