As a former grower of tomatoes and strawberries, I enjoy sharing my cultivation experience with the companies that I work with. I have now worked as a consultant at Horti-Consult International for 3 years. Before that, my wife and I had a tomato and strawberry growing company. It is a wonderful challenge to be able to share my experiences and knowledge in both the Netherlands and especially in other parts of the world as a consultant. I am often involved in companies who are making plans to reorganise, change their crop, or expand. I follow their progress from the drawing board and provide advice jointly with the suppliers. The cultivation is often determined already and in my case I advise on soft fruit, tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber.
I visit a lot of companies both in the Netherlands and outside. My advisory role for these companies goes beyond cultivation and I cover subjects such as labour, energy, biology, internal transport and packaging. It is good to see that a lot of technology and knowledge comes from the Netherlands, and that companies abroad develop or adopt cultivation methods that suit them better. In one case I visited a strawberry nursery in North America that had started operations using a traditional cultivation system growing strawberries on substrate gutters, but have since changed to a different cultivation method that fits them better. I helped them think through this step. The reason for changing to a different cultivation system was because – unlike in the Netherlands and Belgium – the strawberry plants last one year. Many growers in North America currently use lighting and LED lighting has become so good that people have moved to 100% LED.
The client and I agree on how often I visit them. I then go to them on-site, look, listen and take notes. This helps get a good understanding of the operations. And I look at what is happening remotely every day. Every grower knows how important it is to continually adapt their cultivation regime to the prevailing weather conditions. It is thus crucial to continually keep tabs on the situation and from a distance watch what the cultivation specialists are doing. We can then jointly get the best results.