For many years, most flower farms nestled in low altitudes have always been faced with extreme temperatures which usually thwart quality, quantity of flowers and in the end affecting prices they fetch in the market. This has led to many innovations; such as shade nets, fogging machines among others; which are used to curb the scorching heat from wilting plants.
Dale Flora being among the farms snuggled in low altitudes; 1800m, has invested in fogging machines that sprinkles fine mist over flowers in greenhouses thus cooling the tender growing roses as well as maintaining the greenhouses humidity.
The machine performs in a way that pressure is exerted to water, into small stainless metallic pipes, raised in greenhouses with nozzles and sprayers. Once water is ejected from the nozzles, it strikes impaction pins in the pipes, creating millions of water droplets. The fog forms once high pressure water passes through the atomizing sprayers.
“The high pressure fogging machine system is designed to increase humidity of between 55-60 g/m3 grams of water vapor thereby achieving a cool environment in a greenhouse. As a Company, we strive to maintain this range of temperatures; if it goes to lower levels, flowers‘stomata closes thus hampering the photosynthesis of the flowers. We preferred this method rather than using shade nets, as nets controls sunlight rays but doesn’t provide humid environment,” opined Prashant Takate, Dale Flora Ltd General Manager.
The Farm that is in Mogotio, Nakuru County, began in 2014 and specializes in growing 13 varieties of roses. They have installed four fogging machines units which service all their greenhouses on a total area of 23 acreages. One of the machine is installed in the pack house; at grading area to provide a cool environment when the roses are being weighed, defoliating, graded and packed before being moved to cold rooms for preservation.
“The main essence of us installing the machines is to achieve high quality flowers in terms of the bud size as well as the stem length for our direct market. Direct market is developing at a high rate and demands high quality roses, if you can’t achieve it, you are out of the market,” he said.
Additionally, the farm also uses the fogging machine to spray for control of botrytis. It is also used for sanitizing and restricting the growth of molds. The fogger uses pressure to create a fine chemical spray which when applied falls to the targeted area. The spray density is usually moderated by a manual valve to ensure optimum effect.
“Chemicals are used with care; the spray or mist can linger in the air. Time should be allowed for the solution to settle and do its work. We keep an area clear when treatment is underway to prevent chemical inhalation,” Prashant explained.
The farm is the largest source of employment in Mogotio, with over 400 workers depending on it, for livelihood. It’s one of the biggest employer, boosting the economy of the area in millions of shillings every month in form of salaries.
“We have a challenge; most of the workers from around are unskilled. We employ them, and go ahead to train them on flower farming but when greener pastures pop up, they leave us,” he pointed out.
On their way forward, the company is targeting at expanding to extra acres of assorted varieties and carrying out trials of roses that will adapt well to their growing zone. They are also in search of new niche markets for their flowers.