Frost damage is devastating.
Smaller crops do not just mean fewer returns for growers; the economic impact goes far beyond the farm gate as it often means less for the pickers, the packhouses, the contract wineries, the packaging and labelling suppliers, and retailers too.
Last year vineyards across the UK experienced one of the worst frosts on record as temperatures dropped drastically during May, just when buds were at their most vulnerable.
One of the most effective ways of combatting frost is with a Frostbuster, which has been used by growers worldwide for many years and has won many awards for the way it has revolutionised top and soft fruit and vine frost protection.
It has been proven to increase the temperature in the orchard, tunnel or vineyard, preventing the awful effects frost can have on the fruit bud. The machine works by burning gas to provide a heated air supply, which is then blown by a fan driven by the tractor across the orchard or into the end of a tunnel. By driving around the orchard, or vineyard, following a pre-determined route it is possible to protect an area of up to 8 hectares.
The Frostbuster allows growers to protect crops at sites where no water is available. It can be used not only during radiation frost but also during wind frost. Studies have been done to show that this machine can be used to improve fruit setting and it can also be used for drying fruit after rain to prevent splitting.
The Frostguard, a smaller, stationary version of the Frostbuster, was especially developed to be used in greenhouses, plastic tunnels and small vineyards and orchards. The petrol engine powered fan has an outlet to turn it around 360° continuously, which depending on the application, means it can protect an area of between 0.5 to 1.5 hectares.
If you’re going to invest in any form of frost protection, you need to make sure that it comes on at the right time. We have been working with Pessel for a number of years and have found their internet-based weather systems to be the most effective and reliable.
How they work
Unlike other frost protection systems, the working principle is not based on raising the temperature above the critical values but on phase transition and by controlling the forming of hoarfrost which is the biggest enemy for flowers and buds. Without protection, the layer of hoarfrost will increase and finally cause damage to the plant by dehydration as the ice crystals extract energy and humidity from the buds and flowers.
The Frostbuster and Frostguards from Agrofrost form a hot air stream every seven to 10 minutes, so part of the ice evaporates while the remaining ice gets energy from the passing air. The higher the humidity, the more energy that is transferred. This allows growers to protect crops with only a fraction of the energy input that is needed by other systems.
iMetos ice is a remote weather station which can be installed in your most frost vulnerable area. Every 5-minutes it reads the temperature from both its dry and a wet bulb temperature sensor and every hour it records this accurate information and growers can set this to upload to the iMetos client database via its inbuilt cellular phone. All you need is a GPRS sim card and account.
All data collected can be reviewed online, and there is also a password protected site where you can set alarms for when it detects certain temperature levels. Within minutes of the alarm value being reached the telephone numbers that you set will be automatically rung.
A major advantage of these weather stations is that they require very little energy and can be run for a long time on the integrated rechargeable storage battery, which is constantly recharged by solar cells. Even in periods of bad weather and in regions with little sunlight, the energy is sufficient to operate the device throughout the year without interruption.
Soil moisture content, soil temperature and rainfall can also be added to the system to make this a universal recording station.
If you want to chat through the full specifications or want to know more about the Frostbuster, Frostguard or iMetos ice, please do give me a call on 01580 712200.
Tom Wheatley, sales at NP Seymour