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Italy: Clipping 1,600 tomato plants per hour with the Tom System
In 2003, Vincenzo Tancredi started a project of producing high quality tomatoes, mixing the Mediterranean traditions with the hydroponic production methods. As a result, the biggest glasshouse of Italy was built in the little village of Sibari, in the Calabrian southern region of Italy.
In 2004 Tancredi tomatoes obtained the Global Gap certification. This was very important in order to export their produce to other countries, specially to the UK. The varieties produced in their high tech greenhouses are Kumato, Daterino, Piccolo and others, very appreciated by their quality and good taste.
According to Vincenzo Tancredi “in order to produce high quality products, we need high-tech facilities, and that is why we built a state of the art glasshouse. This is not usual in Mediterranean climates, where most of the times the greenhouses are built in plastic. But in order to be able to produce in winter time, we need to control perfectly the climate of the greenhouse, and definitely that is more under control in a glasshouse”.
In fact, in winter time there is a lot of competition to produce tomatoes for Northern Europe: “In Belgium, Holland and France, the production reduces a lot in winter time, so the main European markets, as the British and German, are provided by tomatoes coming from Spain, Morocco, Italy, Turkey, Israel…. So definitely you need to achieve the highest quality standards to be able to be a provider of some of the toughest clients in Nothern Europe”.
“Besides of having good facilities, it is essential to be continuously looking for innovations, in order to be more competitive” explains Mr. Tancredi. “ In fact, greenhouse vegetable production is one of the most innovative fields in agriculture”.
In this way, two years ago, Vincenzo learned by the internet about the Tom System, the new clipping method of Agrifast. So he directly contacted them and asked for a trial.
“In the beginning of course it took some time until we get used to the new system. But after some time, we could see the benefits”. Basically, apart from the high clipping speed, which goes up to 1600 plants per hour, there was another important advantage: “in summer time, it gets very hot inside the greenhouse, and when you twist the plants to tie them, you increase a lot the stress of the plant. This is caused by the strangulation of the stem of the plant caused by the twine. And this can be very dangerous when it is too hot, as it reduces the water and nutrient uptake from the roots to the upper part of the plant”.
In fact, there are several physiological disorders caused by the plant difficulties to uptake nutrients from the roots, especially in summer time. One of the most known disorders in known as Bloosom End Rot (BER). In this case, a calcium deficiency causes a necrosis of the bottom part of the fruits.
Besides, Mr. Tancredi had the technical collaboration of Agrifast and Alessandro Montanarella, one of the most known greenhouse crop advisors in Italy, with more than 25 years of experience. “I have help Agrifast to introduce the Tom System in Southern Italy. Tancredi Tomatoes and Ortoserre, in Melfi, where the first two customers using the Tom System in Italy”, points our Mr. Montanarella. Vincenzo Tancredi grows his tomatoes on the Cultilene stonewool with the well-known X fiber technology, with the technical support of Mr. Montanarella.
“For us, it was a great help to have the collaboration of Alessandro, as he really speaks the language of the tomato growers”, recognizes Alberto Lizarraga, from Agrifast. For 2015, we want to start also the commercialization of the Tom System in Northern Italy, with the help of the historic Agrifast dealer, the company Alvaro Bernardoni.
“After 3 years of experience in Holland, for us it is now the moment to start introducing the product in other markets”. Definitely, the Tom System can be already considered as the alternative twisting method to the traditional methods of plastic clipping and twisting. “But we are optimistic and we think in the future more and more growers will use the system, as it has many advantages compared to the traditional tying methods”, summarizes Alberto Lizarraga from Agrifast. “Something working in such a different environments as Holland in Northern Europe and Southern Italy means that we were able to create a strong product, which can be suitable for different methods of tomato growing”.
In the meantime Mr. Tancredi continues growing tomatoes in a more a more competitive market. “And of course after such a hard work we always hope a good prices season in 2015!”
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