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Application of Simple Fertigation Technology for Hydroponic Melon Cultivation

[, Fri, 02/09/22] Faculty of Agriculture Community Service Team Unsoed consisting of Dr. Ir. Endang Warih Minarni, M.P., Dra. Nurtiati, M.S. and Agus Suroto S.Pd. M.Si. carried out community service activities (PPM) through the science and technology application program funded by BLU Unsoed 2022. The PPM activity entitled "Application of Hydroponic Melon Cultivation Technology as an Effort to Increase Farmers' Income" was carried out from March to August 2022. The partner of this PPM activity is the Raden Farmer Group which is led by Mr. Mugiarso, in Pabuwaran Village, North Purwokerto District, Banyumas Regency

Dr. Ir. Endang Warih Minarni, M.P said that the problem faced by farmers was the occurrence of crop failure in melon cultivation. This failure is caused by pests and diseases, errors in plant maintenance, and environmental conditions. “The community service team offers a solution to overcome this problem with hydroponic melon cultivation technology with a simple fertigation technique. The selection of this technology is based on the ease and cheapness of cultivation technique and the selling price of the product which is more expensive than conventionally cultivated melons”, she said

This community service was carried out through mentoring, education, and demonstration plots. The lecture and discussion methods were carried out as media of transferring information that is interactive. This method was a program initiation with the hope that farmers will have good basic knowledge of hydroponic melon cultivation. The training materials included making screenhouses, making fertigation installations, preparing planting media, making nurseries, providing nutrition, plant maintenance, pollination, pest and disease control, as well as harvesting and marketing. The hydroponic melon cultivation demonstration plot was managed with easy, cheap and appropriate technology. It is hoped that the adoption of this technology can be accepted by the community.

Farmers who are members of the Raden Farmer's Group have benefited from this activity. In this activity, two varieties of melons were planted, namely Apollo and Golden Aroma. Apollo melon is one of many types of yellow melon that is widely developed in Indonesia. The advantages of the Apollo variety are the sweet taste and crispy and thick flesh. Meanwhile, melons of the Golden Aroma variety have thick net skin with green-base color, orange and crunchy flesh, sweet taste of sugar (Brix) up to 16%. Besides, they are resistant to viral attacks such as bacterial wilt and Fusarium fungus.

It was further explained that the simple technology using a screenhouse made of bamboo and insect net, cocopeat media and a simple fertigation system, made farmers of Raden farmer group be able to produce hydroponic melons with premium quality. The results of measurements with a refractometer showed that the sugar content of the fruit ranged from 15-16, while the sugar content of melons cultivated by farmers in Raden farmer group previously only ranged from 10-12. In addition to a sweeter taste, the appearance of the fruit is fresher and smoother without any traces of insect pests or pathogens. The weight of the fruit that is not too large is preferred by consumers, because it can be consumed for one snack. The weight of Apollo melons ranges from 0.9 to 1.2 kg/fruit, while the Golden Aroma ranges from 1.35 to 2.00 kg/fruit. The price of this hydroponic melon is also higher than the price of ordinary melon

The first harvest of premium hydroponic melons by Raden farmer group were sold by picking directly at the screenhouse, online, supermarkets. The selling price of premium melons to supermarkets is around Rp. 25,000-30,000/kg, while the price of regular melons is around Rp. 13,000-15,000/kg. Consumers who bought the melons were satisfied and wanted to buy again. This encourages farmers to plant again and plan to add more screenhouses.