Brothers Eugène and Tino van Ruijven run the pepper farm that bears their name at Kwintsheul. With three locations they produce about 2.8 million orange peppers each year. The history of the business is relatively recent: in 1997 they started to cultivate peppers on an allotment. Over a period of 15 years the company has grown like the peppers and is now a business with 9.5 ha.
"At the start of cultivation last December the peppers got off to a better start in one greenhouse than in the other," Eugène says early on in our interview. Both greenhouses at the farm contain plants of the same variety with the same planting date, yet there were distinct differences in growth: a thinner stem, smaller leaves and no distinctive smell of peppers in the greenhouse. All this kept the grower extremely busy last winter. Everything had to be examined in search of the cause. One difference turned out to be the energy screen. One greenhouse has an LUXOUS 1243 D with high light transmission. The other had a three year old PH Super model energy screen. Measuring the light levels showed that the light transmission of the PH Super was about 20% lower than the specification of 85%.
In the cold months of December and January screens are used a lot: 168 hours a month is not unusual. So if an energy screen transmits considerably less light, this has a negative effect on cultivation! In the end the decision was made to replace the barely three year old screen, and install the exceptionally transparent LUXOUS 1347 FR energy screen.
Now, just two months later Eugène is extremely happy about the decision, “In the morning I can see the sun rising through the screen, I never could have seen it with the old screen … I can even see the leaves of the peppers gleaming in the sunlight that comes in through the screen.” The screen strategy has now also been adapted thanks to the LUXOUS 1347 FR, with the screen staying out longer in the morning. “We now get a lower return temperature than before which also shows that I am saving more energy.” This is also apparent when the sun comes out, with the greenhouse receiving more radiant heat. Later in the year Eugène also expects to make use of more screen hours given the good light transmission of the LUXOUS 1347 FR. He adds, “Now, when I do my round of the plants in the evening, I can see the stars through the screen.” That is unique!