“20% more fruit in our two-tier cropping system”

“Using the available space in the greenhouse as efficiently as possible is your goal, isn’t it? To this end, cultivation gutters at different heights offer encouraging possibilities for strawberries. The special constructions make them quite expensive, and above all the lifting system comes in front of the problems of safety and reliability of the work. With the 2Level Stationary Growing System, we now offer the answer to these concerns, while addressing industry challenges, such as year-round crop selection and the desire for more automation/robotization. in the greenhouse,” said Growtec’s Robin Dirks. In Canada, five growers are currently working with 2Level, which enables multi-layered cultivation. A test of this new system is currently underway at the Delphy Experiment Station in Horst.

From Canada to the Netherlands
Growtec is a relatively young company, led by well-known industry influencers. In recent years, they have supplied many grow gutters to North American growers from their Canadian branch, run by Freddy Sarkis. Last year, Robin started supplying the European market from the Etten-Leur branch. Not only the cultivation gutter, but also, if necessary, the corresponding irrigation solution. “It’s not so much about the crop gutter as a product, but as a part of the irrigation system. We can relieve growers of irrigation problems from start to finish, giving them the right drippers if they want. Robin himself does not come from a horticultural background. No problem, because he is in tandem with Rob Kwinten, among others, who joined him this year to offer producers all the technical support they need.

Robin Dirks and Rob Kwinten in Horst test station

greenhouse strawberries
In Canada, as in the Netherlands, the cultivation of strawberries in greenhouses is developing rapidly. This is also where the need for this multi-layer culture system comes from. “More than anything at the moment, it is important to find the optimal number of plants per m². Compared to a culture at the same level, it allows to have more plants”, explains Robin. “The channels are placed in such a way that the range of light remains optimal, the goal is that we arrive at a growing solution that not only accepts 20% more plants, but also yields 20% more many fruits.A positive financial compromise is essential.

No reinforcements
It should be noted here that, unlike lifting or swinging systems, no reinforcement of the structure is required. “The 2Level system can also be installed in existing greenhouses. It was notably implemented in a greenhouse originally intended for the cultivation of cucumbers. »

Horst Trials
In Canada, five greenhouses are now equipped with the 2Level system, both new and existing greenhouses. In the Netherlands, testing is currently underway at Horst and Delphy. Cultivation began at the end of last year, and the first fruits are expected in February, and cultivation will last until November.

“We also calculate the profitability of the total system between enlightened culture and traditional culture. We already have models and data collected in Canada, but the growing conditions in Europe remain different,” explained Robin.

Optimizing plant density
“In Canada, we see remontant varieties becoming the norm because they match the market in terms of quality. At the same time, this means that the cultivation is longer and the disease pressure is higher. This is partly for the reason it is that closed culture gutters are already a standard: a response to biofilm, reduction of virus and pest pressure, which is also beneficial in terms of labor and energy”, continues Freddy. “With the 2Level system, we are even further. Optimizing plant density is one step closer to the best possible return on investment. And that’s all about the latter. »

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Robin Dirks

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