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A Day on the Road with Hugo Plaisier

Consultants are an important face for Svensson. Growers, installers and modern seed breeders want to be informed of the latest trends in the field of climate screens. Hugo Plaisier drives to the Noordoostpolder region of Holland for his consultancy work.
07:00/08:00

The day starts early and will end late. The first snowflakes will cause traffic jams in the afternoon, but this is for later. Hugo uses the morning to prepare for his two visits of today and an important sales meeting that will take place at the offices in Hellevoetsluis tomorrow.

10:30

The first drive of the day is from his home in Barendrecht, Holland to bell pepper grower Noorland in IJsselmuiden, a village opposite Kampen. The IJssel separates the two towns. It will be a trip of almost 2 hours. The brothers Ton and Jan Noorland left Oostland in 2006 to fulfill their greatest wish: a 7 ha greenhouse to grow green bell peppers with the option to expand.

12:00 

Hugo eats some soup and bread in Routiers Restaurant Nunspeet on the A28 and quickly gets back on the road. The goal of the first visit is to listen to Ton Noorland about his recently installed second screen, Svensson's New Luxous 1147 FR. This is a new energy-efficient climate screen which was designed for the cultivation of vegetables with a very high level of transparency. Growing bell peppers requires a lot of light. Svensson recently debuted the New Luxous climate screen and Noorland was one of the first to install it.

13:00 (1:00 PM)

The building complex of the Noorland brothers looks great. Ton pours some coffee in the canteen to talk about the installation of the screen with Hugo. His brother Jan is busy working in the greenhouse placing hundreds of pots with bell pepper plants (Frazier of Enza Zaden/ed.) on Grodan Vital and connecting these to black drip tubes. When he is done, the greenhouse will host more than 130,000 plants. Each plant will grow two stems which all will have their own rope - yellow for the first stem, and white for the second - to help them grow upwards. Harvesting begins in mid-March.

“Energy consumption has significant costs, which means that efficient screening saves on gas”, explains Ton about the benefits of the second screen. “Another argument for choosing for the new Luxous was that I wanted to get rid of foil. It is too labour intensive to apply and remove. I wanted to have the best screen possible. We want to be in the forefront. I refuse to sacrifice on this.” Hugo is visibly satisfied. These two screens will result in significant energy savings compared to the old situation. Ton and Hugo have calculated that 30 cubic meters per square meter can be easily achievable, but Ton has heard from another bell pepper grower that it might be just bit more than 27 cubic meters.

“The energy savings helps us absorb the price per kilogram, which has fallen on average over the past few years. The benefit of this very bright, transparent screen is that the production per square meter increased because of the additional light that reaches the crop.” Ton takes Hugo aside at the end of the tour. Noorland has some questions about replacing the first screen which has been there for 10 years and is starting to wear. He wants to replace this screen soon to achieve the best possible energy savings. Hugo promises to follow up on this,but wants to first see the results of the first crop underneath the new Luxous 1147 FR.

15:00 (3:00 PM)

Ever heard of Bant? This is the place to be in the world of potato breeding. Agrico has its research and development department at the edge of this town in the Noordoostpoolder, surrounded by vast agricultural fields. The breeding and research company of the cooperative develops new potato varieties here for the global market (the Milva) and the production of chips (the Fontane). A greenhouse is essential for this work. Sjefke Allefs, Agrico Research director, welcomes Hugo in the hall and takes him upstairs.

Hugo brings in a handful of documents and a larger catalog with samples. “This will be our third research greenhouse”, explains Allefs. “The second greenhouse will be demolished in a few weeks. The new greenhouse will double in size and will be 4000 square meters. We mimic the entire crop in the various departments, from cloning to seeding. In department 4, de KorteDagkas, we are going to work with wild potatoes that can be found around the equator.”

15:20 (3:30 PM)

The construction meeting starts with Allefs as chairman. The external technical consultant Theo Herngreen sits next to him. There are also four researchers that will work in the greenhouse. The large construction drawing by greenhouse designer and builder Certhon lies in front of Hugo and hangs on the wall. Herngreen has outlined the various screens in the drawings together with Certhon. Allefs wants Hugo to advise him on whether the right choices have been made. The staff must not only work comfortably, but the assimilation lighting must be curbed.

Allefs: “Screens should optimally support us in our work. It must be cool for our researchers, our plants need light and air, and energy must be saved.” Theo, Sjefke and Hugo discuss each department of the new greenhouse. A vast reference file is used to discuss possible screen choices and the researchers get involved at times. Some minor screen adjustments are made based on the advice of Hugo, but these do not affect the construction. Sjefke Allefs keeps a close eye on the construction schedule.

The screens will be installed in the greenhouse at the end of July, and the entire greenhouse must be operational at the start of 2018. Hugo concludes that the future users do not have a lot of experience with the correct use of the screens. He offers to return to teach them how to properly use the screens. Playfully: “I am available and won't send an invoice.”

16:30 (4:30 PM)

It is dark when Hugo pulls out of his parking space at Agrico Research in Bant. The trip back to Barendrecht starts, but the map on the dashboard already shows significant traffic jams. The country grinds to a halt when snow falls. He has a brief talk with director Wouter de Jong about the wishes of one of the installers working with Svensson. “I will check if all screens for Agrico are in stock”, he tells Wouter. “It is an atypical client, after all.” He is positive about the meeting, because his presence was an added value. Hugo calls his wife to inform her that he won't make dinner at 19:00, because traffic is very slow. To conclude the day, he discusses the meeting with Noorland with Svensson's climate data analyst and product manager Paul Arkesteijn. His face is lit up by the red brake lights.

“With Svensson's newest climate screen, Harmony 1315 O FR, lighting tomato growers can get through the worst of climates, even a record hot summer like in 2018,” says greenhouse climate consultant Joost Haenen.

The new open climate screen offers benefits not only for the plants, but also for the working climate conditions. The best part of this new screen is that it makes chalking or coating unnecessary.

The major challenge in every crop lies in the realization of a good assimilate balance. In other words, the production of assimilates (controlled by irradiation) and the consumption of assimilates (depending on temperature) must be in balance. During a heat wave such as our past summer, the temperature is high, and therefore the consumption of assimilates is high. Too high consumption of assimilates comes at the expense of the roots. Weak or uneven root growth can lead to quality problems and water stress during a heat wave with a lot of radiation, causing high evaporation. This will close the stomata. However, open stomata are necessary for CO2 absorption. As a result, not only growth comes to a halt, but also less moisture enters the greenhouse air. This can easily be avoided with the right ventilation strategy but preventing plant stress is even better. The Harmony 1315 O FR summer screen has been developed for this purpose.

Specially for exposed tomato cultivation

High light levels and air permeability are unique to the Harmony 1315 O FR summer screen. When closed, it provides a slight shadow effect (13% in direct light) and a very high diffusivity. The screen has been specially developed for illuminated tomato growing. Tomatoes can have a lot of light, but at some point, they can't handle it anymore. This climate screen has been developed to remove the sharp edges. Especially in the scarce warm months, April to July, when the plant is old and has long stems.

“Tests at the Improvement Center have shown that the plant does not have to evaporate as much on an extremely sunny day with the new screen. The water consumption is then approximately 20% lower, which means that the root quality remains better due to oxygen retention in the mat. The open structure is also unique, ensuring that there is more than enough air exchange. That's why it's a perfect screen for the summer," says climate consultant Joost Haenen. “Moreover, the cultivation plan changes from tomato. Lighting growers are planting plants earlier and earlier, sometimes in August or even in July. Small plants then have a hard time due to the high radiation and temperature. During this period, the climate screen can easily be used to keep the plant in balance."

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