System that reduces labour costs for growing cucumbers
The Netherlands and Canada are the two countries that use the most innovative technology when it comes to growing cucumbers. The productivity is very high and the best growers can produce up to 700-800 tons per hectare (70 to 80 kilos per squared meter). This means that their cucumbers can grow various meters, but they need to be tied to a thread. This string helps the plant to grow vertically.
The first experiments with cucumbers
Traditionally cucumbers used to be tied manually or with plastic clips. It can be hard to tie the plants manually, especially during summer. The risk that the stems break is high, and this obviously means that the productivity reduces. When the stem breaks, the plant suffers stress. This stress makes it hard for the plant to transport liquid and nurture the roots.
Agrifast started 3 years ago experimenting with a new electrical tying system, originally developed for tying tomatoes. The main difference between this tying system and other binding systems is the material that is used to bind the plant to the twine. This binding system uses metal rings instead of plastic clips.
The Tomsystem was originally developed to tie tomato plants, that is why the rings first just had a diameter of 21 mm. But, the stems of cucumbers are smaller, that is why the rings used during the experiment had a diameter of 14mm.
Binding cucumber plants: a success story
During 2014, Jan Reijm did an experiment: “I expected this system to work for cucumbers. When we started we just tried it on one row, just to see if the plants would get damaged from the use of this system. This was not the case, that is why we decided to try the system on several rows to see if it was possible to lower the plants with the Tomsystem. One ring every 40-50 cm is enough to maintain the plants.”
When Jan Reijm concluded that technologically speaking it was possible to tie cucumbers with this binding system, he started to focus on accelerating the binding process. “We were used to have a speed of 1000 to 1200 plants per hour. When we started using the Tomsystem the speed was the same, but after our staff had used the machine for several weeks, we saw that every week they tied faster and faster. To gain velocity, we had to use the metal wire. The Tomsystem is attached to a metal wire that ensures that the employee does not have to carry the system himself. After one season, our staff was able to tie 1.500 to 1.600 plants per hour and we were able to reduce labour costs.
Tying the plants is one of the tasks that requieres a lot of labour. This because it has to be done at least once every week during the period of growth of the plant. During summer this is even more: every 3 to 4 days a plant should be tied. Because of this, speeding up the binding process with 25-30% means being able to reduce costs.
The rings that are used by the Tomsystem do not damage the plants. After the first positive experiences in the Netherlands, other growers from Holland and other countries showed their interest for using this system in 2015. “We prefer a grower to try the system first with their own employees, but the enthusiasm is so big that some growers want to implement directly the system without first doing a trial” says Dirk-Jan Haas, manager of DJ Products/hortiware and exclusive distributor of Tomsystem in the Netherlands.
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For more information, feel free to contact us through this form or directly with:
Dirk-Jan Haas (Nederland)
Phone: +31 6 59 69 56 54