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NL: Vertify's demo greenhouse got a makeover

"Many growers have been here at least once," says Cor van Staalduinen while we sit in the atrium of what's known as 'the old demo greenhouse'. He refers to the greenhouse at the Zwethlaan in Honselersdijk (the Netherlands). That 'old greenhouse' is currently being updated as Vertify aims to revitalize the location.

Cor van Staalduinen in front of Vertify's Zwethlaan location in the Netherlands

Out of oblivion
"In July 2020, I was discussing the Zwethlaan location with our director Johan Kos. I asked him for clarity: either we get rid of this location or we breath new life into this greenhouse," site manager Cor says. The Zwethlaan fell into oblivion when the World Horti Centre was opened further down in Naaldwijk (the Netherlands). Demand for greenhouse space at the World Horti Center increased rapidly. "Especially during the pandemic, the World Horti Center boomed. Currently, we have no space left there, and the same goes for our greenhouse in Zwaagdijk (the Netherland). This brought our Zwethlaan location back into focus.

The front of the greenhouse

"All departments are up to date again"
"Currently we are again modernizing the Zwethlaan location." Modernization started after the conversation with Johan in the summer of 2020. "We immediately started to clean the greenhouse and the offices. Subsequently, a few tenants moved back into the complex. This brought the location back to life.

At the end of February, the entire company is operational again. "All departments are up to date. We have for example tackled the irrigation system and the power supply. And climate computers have also been updated."

A new transformer station has been created

A mini WHC
The demo greenhouse at Zwethlaan dates back to the early 2000s. "Back then the greenhouse was used to demonstrate high-wire cultivation, including the use of conveyor belts. We expanded from 5 to 38 departments and we updated the greenhouse in 2012."

Around 2015, the concept of the World Horti Center became really successful. According to Cor, this center combines knowledge, business, and education. He emphasizes that they did exactly the same at the Zwethlaan location albeit on a smaller scale. "The classroom is still there," he says during the tour. Twice a week, we offer training sessions for growers who want to learn more about new cultivation techniques.

The water technology room has been renewed. In the background, the classroom and the improved electricity connection

Testing behind the scenes
The advantage of the Zwethlaan location is that (experimental) research attracts less attention. "This location allows for behind-the-scenes testing. At the World Horti Center, that's more difficult. Everything that's possible at the World Horti Center is also possible here but on a smaller scale."

A reminder of the Zwethlaan location's latest expansion

Cor gives an example. "Imagine a trial that aims to find whether plants die due to a certain treatment. In this case, it doesn't matter that the greenhouse eventually becomes a desolate scene. At the World Horti Centre such a situation would raise visitor questions, as visitors do not know the context of the research. Here at the Zwethlaan, there's far less visitor scrutiny."

Cor points out that crop protection trials and technology-oriented trials gain more attention

The greenhouse compartments at Zwethlaan are suitable for research in ornamental horticulture and food horticulture. "It's almost fifty-fifty," Cor says. During the tour, we encounter various trials, among which a tomato pilot on sulfur-free cultivation. In the greenhouse, there's also room for some nostalgia. "I think I won't remove all the old plates. They nicely show this location's longstanding commitment to the future of horticulture."

Some nostalgia

Aligning with cultivation practices
By the end of the year, Cor hopes to open the renovated office. In the meantime, Vertify continues to improve its greenhouses. "We remain realistic. I think it will take at least two years to complete this upgrade."

As the trials are up and running, growers and technology partners return to the Zwethlaan location. The site manger adds: "You can easily stop by. That's exactly what growers are looking for when conducting research. Sometimes it's even an advantage that the greenhouses are slightly outdated as they align with current cultivation practices. Today, many growers don't have the most modern and highest greenhouses."

For more information:
Cor van Staalduinen
Zwethlaan 52
2675 LB
Honselersdijk, the Netherlands
+31 (0) 228 563 164
[email protected]

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