On 14 February 2017, the first day of the HortiContact Tour, a total of 35 guests from 14 different nationalities visited 5 farms, nurseries and research sites. The participants were unanimously enthusiastic about the tour, says Jelle Tetteroo of Uniglobe Westland Business Travel. ‘We were cordially welcomed by nice people who spoke to us about their profession with passion. There were plenty of opportunities to ask questions, which resulted in many interesting discussions. I received only positive response from the participants.’

The day started with a morning visit to vine tomato grower Jami in Bergschenhoek, run by Michel Zwinkels and Arjan and Andy de Jong. In late 2012 the firm started using LED lighting in combination with SON-T top lighting, under which three hectares of crops are grown. An additional three hectares of tomatoes are grown without assimilation lighting. LED expert Koos de Wit of Philips Lighting spoke extensively about the results achieved through the practical application of hybrid lighting on vine tomato crops, at Jami as well as other farms all over the world.

Testing in practice

The group then proceeded to Wageningen University & Research in Bleiswijk, where they were invited to take a look at several practical trials. These included a trial in which lettuce was grown on water under LED lighting, and one that involved vanilla plants. Also, the winter light and 2Save Energy greenhouses were presented, in which cucumbers and tomatoes are grown, respectively. After lunch the participants visited the Delphy Improvement Centre. The centre currently conducts trials in which roses, vine tomatoes and strawberries are grown under LED lighting. Energy-saving trials involving chrysanthemums and sweet peppers were also presented.

Arcadia and Sion Orchids

In the afternoon, visits were made to chrysanthemum grower Arcadia and Sion Orchids in De Lier. Only chrysanthemum disbuds are grown on Arcadia’s newest farm. The visitors were particularly impressed by Arcadia’s energy-saving and socially responsible cultivation methods, in which the climate system, the biological crop protection agents used and the advanced grading and sorting machine all passed the review. At Sion Orchids, the visitors were given an extensive tour of the potted plant nursery, in which all aspects of Phalaenopsis cultivation – from tissue cultivation to the final product – were discussed.

The second day of the Tour will be held at HortiContact in Gorinchem, and will feature several lectures and a visit to the professional trade fair. The organisation is in the hands of the HortiContact professional trade fair, Uniglobe Westland Business Travel and In Greenhouses magazine.

Text/photos: Mario Bentvelsen.