On Tuesday, 20 February a group of interested parties from all over the globe participated in a tour of various greenhouse horticulture enterprises in the Westland region. Approximately 40 persons attended the HortiContact Tour, which brought them to the Lans tomato farm, the World Horti Center, the SV.CO potted plant nursery and Fransen Roses.

The HortiContact Tour is an initiative of HortiContact Gorinchem, In Greenhouses magazine and Uniglobe Westland Business Travel. Its objective is to give international growers and visitors an opportunity to get a closer look at the latest developments in Dutch greenhouses with their own eyes.

Wonderful opportunity

Entrepreneurs and interested parties in the greenhouse horticulturist sector from all over the world grasped this wonderful opportunity with open hands. The participants, all of whom are in some way involved in the horticulture industry, came from such countries as Argentina, South Korea, Azerbaijan, Israel, South Africa and Canada. Enjoying an informal atmosphere, the group learned all about the latest innovations in the Dutch greenhouse horticulture sector.

Looking at tomatoes

Aad Verduijn, acting as the group’s tour guide, bade the participants a warm welcome to the Lans tomato greenhouse in Maasdijk at a few minutes past nine o’clock in the morning, after which he and Wilko Wisse of the Lans tomato farm showed the group around. Wisse and Verduijn explained in English exactly how Lans sets to work in growing its Prominent vine cocktail tomatoes.

A volley of questions

The international guests made use of this opportunity to bombard the tour guides with a volley of questions, ranging from information about biological and chemical crop protection agents to the ideal distance between the top of a plant and the roof of a greenhouse. Wisse and Verduijn made every effort to answer the diversity of questions to the best of their ability.

World Horti Center

After visiting Lans, the participants of the HortiContact Tour once again boarded the coach, which was provided by Uniglobe Westland Business Travel, and headed to the World Horti Center in Naaldwijk. Here, Verduijn and Stefan Persoon of Inno Agro showed the group around the research greenhouses. Persoon and Verduijn informed the international company about the origins of the World Horti Center and the type of research currently being conducted in the research greenhouses. This was followed by a series of brief sales pitches by representatives of Kubo, BOAL and Modiform, through which the group was introduced to their products.

From cutting to potted plant

During a lunch served at the World Horti Center the tour group became better acquainted with one another. The next stop was the SV.CO potted plant nursery in De Lier. Following a brief introduction, Verduijn and the nursery’s owner Jelle Strijbis took the group through the SV.CO greenhouse, where the cultivation process of potted plants was described from start to finish. Because the cultivation process at SV.CO is fully automated, a visit to the nursery offered a fantastic opportunity for the international entrepreneurs to ask questions about automating the cultivation process.

Challenges in rose cultivation

Fransen Roses in De Lier was the last site visited by the group. Many of the questions asked general director Aad Fransen concerned the greatest challenges facing a rose nursery today. Fransen indicated that, speaking for himself, being able to grow his roses 100% organically was his greatest concern. Consultant Hugo Plaisier of Ludvig Svensson rounded off the tour by giving the visitors more information about the screens and misting system used in the Fransen greenhouse. After a tour of the greenhouse and one last round of questions, the coach took the participants back to their hotel, where they were able to allow all the information they had gleaned to slowly sink in.

Text: Leo Hoekstra. Photos: Mario Bentvelsen.