The first automatic hailnet in fruit growing was demonstrated during the open house day at Pcfruit last Friday. Pcfruit had a Fruit Security Holland Flatnet system – suitable for a three-row syringe – installed over a nine-row Conference plot (2,000 m2 ).
The flat network consists of three parts of almost 10 metres wide, each covering three rows of trees (a total of about 30 metres). The electric motor can open or close the three parts of the surface in a single operation in five minutes. At the moment the hail network is still operated by hand, but pcfruit still has controls via the smartphone installed. The automatic hail network can also be linked to a radar or weather station to fully automate the opening or closing process. “Always keep an active eye on the weather,” Jef Vercammen (PC fruit) added.
Depending on the layout of the plot, one electric motor can open or close 0.4 to 0.5 hectares. In addition to a mains connection (230 Volt), a solar panel with battery can also provide electricity.
Due to the increasing number of thunderstorms, with a risk of hail, pcfruit is aiming for the future with the demo plot with an automatic hail net system. “For the last eight years we have been marrying three times, again this year on Pentecost. Only once in the twenty-five years before 2000 did they get out of business”, says Vercammen, who has been working with PC fruit for 33 years. According to the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) in Belgium, the number of days of thunderstorms rose from approximately 55 in 1928 to approximately 95 in 2007.