Case Study

Black Stump Berry Farm - Guardian Monitor Connect and Pro Controller case study

By Kasha Dubaniewicz on February, 11 2021
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Kasha Dubaniewicz

Kasha is passionate about high-impact storytelling and believes in making positive changes that will lead to a better and happier world for all.

In our latest case study video, we paid a visit to New Zealand-based Black Stump Berry Farm to hear more about their data-driven comparison of a Bluelab-powered hydroponic system vs traditional open-field agriculture.

Strawberries growing at Black Stump Berry Farm

Owner and head grower, Nicky Kingsbeer, said that the main reason for moving their growing operation from in-ground agriculture to hydroponics was that they were looking for a more sustainable growing method that would also improve their labour efficiency.

Existing labour issues were further aggravated by the COVID-19 global health pandemic, so this transition couldn't have come at a better time.

Nicky and her team make use of the Bluelab Pro Controller and Bluelab Guardian Monitor Connect, which allowed part of their farm to be fully converted to the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) method.

The Bluelab Combo Meter Plus in action at Black Stump Berry Farm

Both these tools helped the Black Stump Berry Farm team to have total peace of mind, as they knew their key parameters of plant health were being taken care of around the clock. They also knew that if any issues did crop up, they would be aware of them and be able to fix these issues far quicker than in a non-CEA growing setup.

When it comes to the benefits of choosing to grow with CEA and Bluelab, Nicky credits CEA with keeping her crops on an even keel despite unavoidable weather-related events and fluctuations. In addition, she says that CEA ensures that her crop yield remains extremely consistent, to the point that she can successfully predict the size of the next berry pick come harvest time. 

“So far the impact of moving to hydroponics has been exponential for our business - we plan to move all our crops to be hydroponic in the future. It’s a no brainer when you see the results. Bluelab has helped us grow and we are excited for the future.” - Nicky Kingsbeer

Along with her Bluelab automation equipment, Nicky and her team make use of the Bluelab Combo Meter Plus, which helps them measure the fundamental parameters of pH, EC and temperature at a waist-height level, boosting efficiency and time management. They also use the Bluelab Pulse Meter for direct root zone measurements of EC, moisture and temperature. 

A close up of the irrigation network at Black Stump Berry Farm

Ultimately, by opting to use Bluelab, Nicky feels that this move has made her crops a far more viable option for the future. She attributes the introduction of Bluelab products to an eight-fold improvement in productivity, as well as a 50% increase in crop yield

At the time of our visit, only a third of the farm had been converted to a Bluelab-controlled system, but Nicky plans to convert the further two-thirds before the next growing season. 

Watch the full case study video below:


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