Royal Pride is one of the few companies in Holland that is allowed to display the Milieukeurmerk (Dutch quality mark), so the bar on food safety has been set high in Middenmeer. 'The first step in striving for the lowest possible amount of crop protection agents is to prevent diseases in the crop. A good climate computer system is essential here', says tomato grower Frank van Kleef.
Royal Pride recently switched to a different climate system and a different supplier. Co-owner Frank van Kleef explains the motivation for teaming up with Priva. 'In terms of development the Connext from Priva is much more advanced than other systems. It allows us to grow crops more energy efficiently and make advances in terms of production. This allows you to successfully recoup this type of investment. The new system also has an advantage in the field of food safety, as a good growing climate produces healthier plants with higher resistance.'
'It is, and remains, the green-fingered grower who can best decide whether or not the plant is happy.'
It is an essential aspect of the operational safety Royal Pride continuously strives for. 'We've come a long way in that field. With the current size of tomato companies like ours, that safety is very important. When we switched to the new climate system we had good reason to include a loop so that the necessary back-up was available at all times.'
Technical developments provide added value, but Frank van Kleef does not believe that automation will make expertise superfluous in the future. 'The grower's judgement will always be very important.' At the company in Middenmeer 3500 sensors have been installed to measure all kinds of things. 'But it is, and remains, the green-fingered grower who can best decide whether or not the plant is happy.'
'A development such as Next Generation Greenhouse Cultivation is promising but keeps shifting because technology keeps changing.'
However, due in part to the technological developments, that grower has regularly changed the way they work over the past 20 years. 'A development such as Next Generation Greenhouse Cultivation is promising but keeps shifting because technology keeps changing. We need to continue improving. While 20 years ago we grew 40 kg of tomatoes with 60 cubic metres of gas, today we grow 70 kg with just 35 cubic metres.'
Source/photo: Priva/The Grower Files.