We have visited several Dutch greenhouses to take a look at how they work using Agrifast’s alternative securng system. A great deal has already been said about this system. We thought it was time to go and see the greenhouses working with the system and hear what they have to say about it.
TomSystem is becoming increasingly popular in the horticultural sector in the Netherlands. Currently it is used above all for growing tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers (high-wire).
TomSystem was introduced by Agrifast a couple of years ago with the aim of offering an alternative to traditional tying systems and systems that work with plastic staples.
“After several improvement processes, Agrifast now offers a machine capable of seriously competing with other staking methods”, explains Mart van der Knaap, a Dutch tomato grower. He grows TOVs across 10 hectares of land in Berkel en Rodenrijs. According to him, the main advantage of TomSystem is the metal rings, which can be easily detected as pollution in composting, and the fact that it is a machine that can be easily implemented by the company.
“Manually staking is a speciality; you need qualified staff for this type of work and they are difficult to find”, explains Van der Knaap. “Manually tying is difficult to learn. Training someone to obtain the same results as someone with experience takes time. With TomSystem, an employee can ensure high-quality performance after just one or two weeks”.
Another great advantage according to Van der Knaap is the vital benefits offered for his crops. “I feel that plastic staples and manual tying can puncture the plants. The Agrifast metal staple avoids puncturing stems, the plants are held better, and I have noticed that our harvest is stronger in comparison to our previous results with manual tying or plastic staples.”
In Van der Knaap’s greenhouse, employees tie crops with TomSystem once a week. “The material costs are similar to what we paid for plastic staples. However, it has reduced my labour costs. What’s more, our plants grow better. That’s why I chose to implement the TomSystem”.
Dirk-Jan Haas of DJ Products/Hortiware is the Dutch distributor and point-of-contact for TomSystem in the Netherlands. He emphasises the advantage offered by the system’s sustainability. “Traditional staples are made from plastic and their remains are left in the greenhouse after the end of the growing cycle. Recycling companies are not keen on plastic staples, and prefer metal staples which can be removed from compost using a magnetised conveyer belt. What’s more, metal rings dissolve completely within two years, thanks to the liquid produced by plants.
TomSystem Netherlands is used for growing tomatoes across 60 hectares of land. What’s more, it’s used on 8 hectares of cucumbers and has recently been implemented on a further 5 hectares of cucumbers.
BINDING CUCUMBERS WITH TOMSYSTEM
Cucumber grower, Jan Reijm of V.O.F. Reijm & Zn grows cucumbers using the advanced high-wire system. “We decided to use TomSystem because we wanted to avoid littering our greenhouse with plastic staples. We knew that biodegradable staples were available, but these staples are much more expensive than normal ones. What’s more, the price of regular plastic staples can be very unstable, as a consequence of the fluctuation of petrol prices”.
Reijm began growing crops with TomSystem this year. “We have observed greater performance from our employees, who have very quickly learned how to use the system. With traditional staples, you need 200 hours of practice to gain sufficient experience. With the TomSystem, you can bind 1,200-1,400 stems an hour – with just 80-120 hours of experience. The only requirement is that you need a single crop and that the plants are more or less the same height – as such, this is not a problem for high-wire cucumber growing”.
To start with, V.O.F. Reijm & Zn’s employees bound plants every four days, which they have now reduced to every five or six days. In the second cycle of this year, Reijm wants to stop using plastic staples entirely. “I trust TomSystem and want to use it throughout the entire greenhouse.”
TomSystem is also gaining popularity outside of the Netherlands. Growers in the United States and Canada have begun to use this system in their greenhouses. An interview with these greenhouses will soon be published on HortiDaily.com.