On December 20, 2019 the second edition of the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge organized by Wageningen University started. Within six months five teams are competing to remotely grow the most kilograms of cherry tomatoes, of good quality, with minimum use of resources. Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects is competing in the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge together with Hoogendoorn Growth Management, TU Delft and KeyGene. As team AuTomatoes they strive to achieve the highest profit and win the challenge.
Based on their collective multidisciplinary knowledge team AuTomatoes hypothesized that a higher stem density would be beneficial for crop growth. Therefore, they chose to grow their tomato crop with a higher stem density than is normally used in the Netherlands. So far this is working perfectly; the plants look vigorous and healthy!
The main focus for team AuTomatoes is based on the plant. Intelligent algorithms are used to drive the greenhouse controls. By means of sensor generated data the plants provide feedback to the team. Based on this feedback, the algorithms are adjusted to create an optimum growth climate. Next to realizing the best possible production with excellent quality, the team also focusses on maximizing the resource use efficiency, i.e. produce more with less.
The focus on both the plant and resource use efficiency has proven to be successful: this week team AuTomatoes harvested their first cherry tomatoes! This first harvest is promising for the remainder of the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge. The team is learning, optimizing and creating innovations. We follow our strategies and we are confident about the results.”
The first illuminated semi-closed greenhouse in Australia was delivered last summer. It is an 8-hectare ModulAIR project that we built in Two Wells, 50 km north of Adelaide. Perfection Two Wells has been involved in tomato cultivation for many years, and we asked Michael Simonetta, CEO of Perfection Fresh Group, about his experiences during the building process. Michael has been instrumental in taking his family-owned business from a small operation based at Sydney Markets to a sizeable grower, marketer and processor of fresh fruit and vegetables.
1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us something about your carreer?
I studied and practised accountancy for six years before joining Perfection Fresh as part of the sales team in 1984; I became CEO in 1991. I am currently serving as a Director on the Board of Produce Marketing Association.
2. How did Perfection Two Wells develop? What is the business vision of your company?
When we first built stage 1, we did so because we felt there was a shortage of high-tech production capacity in Australia. This changed in the ensuing years as we and others expanded. Our business vision is that we will continue to lead the fresh food revolution by making the best varieties available as we explore the world of taste, at the optimum times for the Australian consumer and with the ultimate goal of increasing consumption.
3. Last summer, the 5th phase of Perfection Two Wells was delivered. How did you experience this building period What did you like most?
The building experience was excellent, Van der Hoeven and the Perfection team worked very closely. They ensured all works were co-ordinated together without delays or compromises to the project. The teamwork of Erik from Van der Hoeven and Harald from Patron with our team ensured the project was enjoyable.
The qualifying round of the 2nd edition of the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge was held in Bleiswijk on Thursday 12 September. The Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge is a competition is organised by Wageningen University (WUR). Over a period of six months, the teams compete with each other to produce the maximum harvest with the minimum energy consumption.
"Higher production, with a lower risk of diseases."
Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects B.V. and CannabiDol are going to cooperate. Bas Duijvestijn and John Dol announced this last week.
As Sales Manager at Van der Hoeven, Bas Duijvestijn has seen the demand for cannabis projects increase for some time. This strong demand is often accompanied by some uncertainty about what such a project should look like. There is much uncertainty about the correct way of growing, and there are few producers who grow cannabis in the same way. “Cannabis is currently one of the fastest-growing industries in the world and we are seeing market prices dropping,” says Bas. “This requires more efficient cultivation solutions, so five years down the line enough money can still be earned. Through the collaboration with John Dol, Van der Hoeven can lay down a complete package for entrepreneurs who want to grow cannabis optimally and sustainably. We can assist customers from the drawing board and the feasibility study up to and including the cultivation advice after the turnkey construction has been completed.”
Takeover strengthens market position within the sector and underlines focus on innovation
The executive boards of Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects and Patron/Enthoven Techniek have agreed that as of today Patron/Enthoven will become a division of Van der Hoeven. Last Friday, Peter Spaans and Martin Steentjes from Van der Hoeven and Ronald Begelinger from Patron/Enthoven informed the employees of both companies about the takeover.
The takeover of Patron/Enthoven meets the growth ambition of Van der Hoeven and the broadening of the services package will further strengthen the position of Van der Hoeven in the market. As neighbours in Den Hoorn and doing complementary businesses in the sector both Van der Hoeven and Patron/Enthoven have a long history of intensive and successful collaboration on horticultural projects throughout the entire world. By combining their strengths, this collaboration will be intensified even further and the total organisation will be taken to a higher level. This will then enable them to serve the international market even better with innovative turn-key horticultural projects.
Peter Spaans, Managing Director of Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects:
“The growing market for high-tech turn-key total solutions calls for a greater level of integration between all the systems and installations. Our innovative projects will benefit the most from this bundling of forces.”