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In 2017, Rob Oosterom, co-owner of tomato nursery Lijntje in Moerkapelle, Netherlands researched  possibilities and quotations for a new energy screen that had to be installed in his 2.5-hectare greenhouse. The existing screen had been in use for twelve years at that time. It was not flame retardant - which was the main reason for replacement - but otherwise, there was little to criticize. “The installers who came to remove the old screen from the greenhouse said so themselves: “Another nice screen; at most, it is starting to thin out a bit here and there.”

Tomato cultivation is a common thread through the recent family history. Rob's grandfather has been in the tomato business since 1970. Father Jan Oosterom and mother Lieneke Breugem took over the business in 2000. As an 8-year-old, Rob himself drove through the greenhouse on an electric tractor to bring empty tomato crates forward. Immediately after his horticultural training, he started working for his parents in the business, and in 2016 he became a co-partner.

Father Jan Oosterom has been involved in growers' associations for years and has now risen to become chairman of Oxin Growers. With an annual turnover of € 700 million, Oxin is one of the largest producer cooperatives in the Netherlands. So Jan spends a lot of time outside, but that does not alter the fact that he is in the garden every day at about six o'clock to quickly pick some tomatoes and see how the plants are doing. And then father and son often stand next to each other on the concrete path to discuss current affairs.

Rob: “My father has no qualms about handing things over to me. In fact, I was barely on board when he announced that he and my mother – who also works here, as does my sister Susan – were going on vacation for a week. I was surprised, because we never really went on holiday back then. But my father had a good reason: You want to learn the trade, right? Well, then go ahead!”

Sailing his own course and that is still the case today. Of course, father keeps an eye on things, but otherwise he leaves Rob plenty of room to steer his own course. Because he is good with numbers, he has been doing energy trading for the nursery since he was 15 years old.

“I did the math and the deals, Dad just had to sign.”

And so it was time for the replacement of their energy screen. Rob poked around on the internet, delved into the trade magazines and then invited four screen installers to come up with a proposal and make a quote. He did, however, attach one emphatic 'but' to that last part. 'I don't feel like horse trading,' he had dished out to each party.

“Steetec Installatie immediately came up with a good proposal and understood exactly what I wanted. Based on that, and because their technical story was also well put together of course, they were awarded the assignment.”

Extensive consultation between father and son did not precede this. Rob had neatly printed out the four quotations, added a question mark here and there and then presented them to his father. He had only a few practical comments and concluded with the question, 'when will they start?'.

Jan Oosterom: “We don't look for the cheapest; what we buy has to be good.” One thing was certain when selecting the new climate screen; high light transmission.

Rob: “Cultivation is leading for us. The rule of thumb is that every 1% more light translates into 1% more production. I’ll leave it up to you whether that rule applies completely, but we wanted the lightest screen of all and that is the Luxous 1147 FR.”

The choice of the Svensson brand did not require much thought either. After all, the previous climate screen was also of that brand, and it had served excellently for twelve years. After all those years of intensive use, the screen was still remarkably white and was performing well.


The Luxous 1147 FR climate screen has now been hanging at Lijntje for more than three years. When Ton Habraken, Climate Consultant at Svensson, enters the greenhouse of Kwekerij Lijntje, his gaze immediately rises.

“I immediately look up, that's my job!”, he remarks with a laugh. The result is satisfactory. The climate screen has not yet budged and hangs neatly and straight. Rob is also extremely satisfied with it.

He especially likes the clarity: “When the screen is closed, you can see the bolts in the ridge of the greenhouse; that was no longer the case with the previous screen!” There is also satisfaction with the quality and the trouble-free daily use. He has never had to call anyone for service or maintenance. Once a pull wire had to be replaced because it was frayed, but that had nothing to do with the energy screen.

Habraken: “When they purchased this type of screen, it had only just entered the market. As a grower you have to dare to do that. It is true that we test extensively before we enter the market (The Luxous screens are now known for their high energy savings and maintaining a good greenhouse climate, because they let in a lot of valuable daylight), but the grower does not always know that.”

During the twelve years that the previous screen lasted, the Svensson man does not really look up. “We have had it calculated how long a screen can last economically. Then you look at yield prices and energy prices, among other things. In that calculation, around eight years was calculated as the ideal replacement time. Energy prices are lower now, so you're heading towards nine years. But that is the economic lifespan, which does not mean that the screen technically needs to be replaced. As a grower, you can technically leave the energy screen in place a little longer, but an entrepreneur also knows that you will eventually miss out on production and therefore money.”

Rob listens with pleasure. “Are we satisfied with it? Yes, it was quite a serious investment, but we have not regretted it for a day.”


Article published in Kas Magazine - 02 - 2021

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