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How do you start the new cultivation after the crop rotation?

Once the crop has been cleared and the greenhouse cleaned, it is time to begin with the last step of the crop rotation: the start of the new crop. New materials such as AC film, ground cover and substrate mats are placed in the greenhouse. After that the young plants can enter the greenhouse. It is useful to keep to a certain order for ease of work and efficiency. Our specialists will list the different steps for the start of the new cultivation in this article.

1. Placing ground cover / plastics

Most growers choose to use the ground cover for several years. If the ground cover is due for replacement, start with it first during the crop rotation, so that you have enough space.

2. Enroll the gutter film

Gutter film is film that is attached to the cultivation gutters. It prevents the formation of residue and unwanted root growth, it extends the life of the gutter and makes the cleaning of the gutters during the crop rotation a lot easier. Enrolling of gutter film can be done manually, but is much faster with the help of a Rewind trolley.

3. Installing AC film 

In the last few years AC film has been increasingly used at the start of the vegetable cultivation. By using AC film the grower ensures a warmer greenhouse climate for the young plants. When retracting the film, you need to take into account a number of points for attention. In this article our specialist gives more explanation.

4. Draw CO2 hoses

CO2 hoses are quite fragile, which is why some growers choose to replace them every time they change crops. When the hoses hangs between the crop, they contacting the leaves and this is also advisable from a hygienic point of view. The placement of new CO2 hoses can be done most easily by using casting tubes. Click here for more information.

5. Inserting a substrate film

In the paths, substrate film is often placed between the piperail system. This ensures that paths stay tidy. It also ensures that no weeds can grow when you don't have a ground cover. If you do have a ground cover, it will ensure that the ground cover does not wear out as quickly. 

6. Placing substrate mats

In many cases, a new crop starts with new substrate, which is more hygienic than recycle the old ones. However, it is important that you place the substrate mats correctly and that you make drain holes. Incorrect positioning can have negative consequences for cultivation.

7. Installing sticky trap rolls

After placing substrate mats, hang up the sticky trap rolls. It is best to do this before hanging the high wire hooks. If you do this the other way around, it can happen that the sticky trap roll ends up against the rope of the hooks and they stick together. This would make installing the sticky trap rolls a lot harder.

For easy attachment of sticky trap rolls, you can use sticky trap holders. Here you can slide the sticky trap into the holder and during cultivation you can slide the sticky trap holder up with it. Click here for more information about sticky trap holders.

8. Hanging high wire hooks

The next step is to hang the high wire hooks. Above each hole in the substrate mat hang a high wire hook. Make sure that you handle the hooks correctly, so you won’t pull the free fall from the wrong side.

9. Positioning the plugs

Attach the plugs into the tubing of the irrigation tube and put them into the substrate mat. It is very important that you put them at the right depth. If the sampler is not placed deep enough, it can fall out of the mat, preventing the plant from getting water or creating dry spots in the mat. If you insert the sampler too deep into the mat on the other hand, you could puncture the mat.

10. Substrate mats fault-dropping

Crops should not be planted on dry mats. Therefore, drop the substrate mats at least 48 hours before planting full of the nutrient solution suitable for your crop. Make sure that the solution is warm (>18°C), so that there is no cold shock on the young plants. Check that all mats are properly filled. When the substrate mat is full, the packaging film bulges and the nutrient solution is visible on the surface of the mat. If the mat is not full, fill it in manually with a watering can.

11. Penetrating substrate mats

To drain the excess water from the substrate mat, puncture holes in the mat.

12. Planting

Then it's time to plant. A temperature between 18°C (64.4°F) and 28°C (86.8°F) provides the best conditions for rooting the plants. So make sure that the greenhouse and the substrate are at the right temperature.

13. Tightening or clipping

Attach the plants directly to the rope of the high wire hooks. This can be done in two ways: by tying them to the plant (by making an eight) or by clipping them to the plant. As soon as the plants are stuck, you can remove the support sticks.

The advantage of fastening with only rope is that it is less labour intensive, but with this method there is a risk of breaking the head of the plant. Clipping on is more expensive because of the price of the clips and labour, but the chance of breaking the heads is many times smaller.

14. Creating drain holes

In the period after the planting, you give limited water to control the right balance for the crop. After that you guide the mat to the required moisture content. When you have reached this level, you can start with the normal irrigation. You also make drain holes in the substrate mat to prevent the EC in the mat from getting too high. Drainage holes are cut from 2 to 5 inches at the bottom of the mat. If you make them higher, then a layer of water can remain in the substrate mat, causing root rot. Click here for more information about making drain holes.

15. Applying shading agents

Young plants need light to grow, but too much light can cause damage. If the new cultivation starts in a period in a lot of sun, make sure to apply shading agents in time. This way you protect the young plants and prevent heat stress and burning.

16. Hygiene measures

When you have cleaned and disinfected the greenhouse in the right way, you can start the new cultivation clean. This is, of course, what you want to maintain during cultivation. That's why you need to take the right measures. Use a hygiene plan to help you with this. A hygiene plan includes a description of the hygiene measures that are taken on your company and how often and/or at what times these measures must be taken. These include hand- and foot disinfection, cleaning of materials and water disinfection. And think about a hygiene protocol for visitors as well.

A good hygiene plan is becoming increasingly important as a result of the reduction in the number of authorized crop protection products. Therefore it is recommended to spend sufficient time on this. This helps you to reduce the use of crop protection agents during cultivation.

17. Using bumblebees

As soon as the first flowering occurs, it is time for pollination. This is crucial for a good and healthy crop: without pollination, most crops do not develop or do not develop optimally. Pollination can be done manually with a pollinator, but also with bumblebees. The bumblebees are delivered in bumblebee boxes. It is important that you place bumblebee boxes in the right way.

18. Clipping

The truss of young plants can quickly buckle, damage and/or split as they grow and the weight increases. Various clips can help to prevent this from happening. Apply these clips a few weeks after planting to give them extra support. Make sure during the first round of lowering that you do not let the plant drop too fast / too hard or move too far, because then the plant can tear at the rootstock. To prevent this, you can also use a clip.

Ready for the (new cultivation) start

After all the above steps have been completed and the greenhouse has been fully set up, the new cultivation can start and the first products can be harvested in a few weeks. 

Region managers Royal Brinkman internationalQuestions about the start of the new crop
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