Providing our tomato plants with just the right amounts of water, food, warmth and light, all year-round, is what makes them so delicious.
La Serra uses two distinctive irrigation systems to ensure that the specific needs of each tomato variety are met. We believe we are the only commercial tomato grower in the UK to do this.
NFT is a hydroponic technique in which the plants are placed onto plastic bags full of irrigation water.
This liquid is re-circulated past the bare roots of the tomato plants providing them with a continuous supply of fresh water and dissolved nutrients.
We use a Hybrid NFT System (patent pending) designed and developed by R&L Holt of Evesham.
In the Substrate System the plants are placed onto growbags, the plant roots growing down into the rockwool growing medium.
Irrigation water is supplied to the plants via drippers placed into the growbags. In this way the supply of water and fertiliser can be adjusted as needed.
The ‘drain water’ is captured, treated with UV and then re-circulated back around the crop, thus ensuring that water wastage is minimised.
Heating & Lighting
The La Serra site is powered by 3 gas turbine combined heat and power (CHP) engines.
This efficient technology allows us to produce and use heat and electricity for growing our tomatoes and powering our greenhouse site. Any additional power produced is fed back to the National Grid
Our heating system is like a larger version of a home central heating system. Water is warmed up and pumped around the site. The heat is released through the pipe work that runs throughout the glasshouse.
Lighting is an essential part of our ability to grow tomatoes year-round. We predominantly use LED lighting, combined with SON-t (high pressure sodium) in the coldest and darkest months.
If you’ve visited the La Serra glasshouse you may have noticed the distinctive magenta glow of our LEDs. These lighting colours are perfectly optimised to assist with the ripening speed of our tomatoes.
Blackout and energy screens are used to keep the light and heat where they are supposed to be; inside the glasshouse.
Bees & Beneficial Bugs
Modern tomato growing requires the help of several friendly insect species.
Native British bumblebees (Bombus Terrestris Audax) are vital members of the team and pollinate hundreds of thousands of tomato flowers every day. There are between 7,000 – 10,000 bees living in the glasshouse at any one time.
Additionally we introduce several types of predatory insects such as Encarsia (a tiny wasp) and Macrolophus (a small green eating machine). These helpful bugs target problematic pests like whitefly and leaf miner and form an integral part of our IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Strategy.