Manor Farm Fruits is a family run soft fruit grower in Staffordshire, UK. They are part of Berry Gardens, the UK’s leading berry and stone fruit production and marketing group with sales in 2015 of £275 million, a market share in excess of 30% and a year round business supplying all of Britain’s leading retailers.
They grow strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants, loganberries and blackberries over 125 acres (50 hectares). They also have a very successful 12 acre “pick your own” site. The majority of their production is under polytunnels and in 2015 they decided to take their strawberry production into the future by ordering a Saturn Grower system and commissioning two brand new tunnels.
The Saturn Grower system was installed with some crop specific modifications, most importantly a truss support ring around every level. The irrigation was set-up to deliver to each tunnel separately, in accordance with the different varieties selected. The Manor Farm Fruits team did a fine job of preparing the site according to the spec provided by Saturn Bioponics and within three weeks the whole system was installed, planted and functioning.
In the first crop cycle three different varieties were grown very successfully at 29 plants per m2, with the benchmark Elsanta Light Weighting Bed June bearer variety producing an average of 6.6 kg/m2; an increase of 5.1 kg from the 1.5 kg/m2 in their coir bag system – a yield multiple of more than 4x. They have not suffered from any root zone fungal disease as this has been eliminated from the Saturn Grower system, and they have adapted a boom sprayer for easy and effective spraying of the foliar/fruits areas.
Since the July harvest another crop has been planted to overwinter ready for picking in the Spring of 2017 (there is some to pick this Autumn too). The labour force at Manor Farm have had no issues in using the system and have easily incorporated it into their daily routine.
The quality and cleanliness of the fruit and impressive nature of the system have resulted in a number of visits from leading retailers and significant media coverage both nationally and in industry magazines. Indeed the strawberry plants were so impressive that Saturn Bioponics have opened opportunities in Italy, China and the Netherlands as a consequence.
Manor Farm Fruits are pioneers who embraced a novel technology….and it paid off. They have truly taken strawberry production to the next level.