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Finland: Growing tomatoes with just five hours of daylight per day
Together with his brother Tommy, Patrik Sigg owns Sven Sigg AB. Their business is located close to the town of Närpiö, just over 350 kilometres to the north-west of the Finnish capital Helsinki and about twenty kilometres from the Gulf of Bothnia. Sven Sigg has 44 employees, covers seven hectares, and has several production locations.
The brothers grow tomatoes under artificial light on 5.6 hectares of their land. A lot of artificial light is required due to the short days in the winter (with just five hours of daylight per day): they use 250 watts per square metre or 28000 Lux per square metre. The rest of their land - 1.4 hectares - is used for the cultivation of sweet peppers and sweet pointed peppers.
Surprisingly good experience
The business, Sven Sigg AB, made the switch to bumblebee pollination by Koppert in autumn 2016. The bumblebees were delivered by their supplier Schetelig Oy, which has a branch in Närpiö.
In the summer, they use the standard Natupol hive, while in the winter they use Koppert's flagship product - the new hive Natupol Excel – together with the Wireless Beehome system. The two brothers use five hives per hectare per week.
‘Last year we started out with Natupol Excel on 2.5 hectares,’ explains Patrik Sigg. ‘Before that, we had to pollinate by hand. Our experience with Koppert's Natupol bumblebees was surprisingly good. The pollination level was much better than we had expected.’
Better quality, higher production
He sums up the advantages that he and his brother have observed. ‘First of all there is a huge saving in terms of labour now that the bumblebees take care of the pollination. We are also seeing better fruit setting results, and consequently the quality of the fruit is much better. Our production levels have also improved, from 90 to 100 kilograms per square metre. That is partly due to intercropping, but the pollination by the bumblebees was certainly also a contributing factor. After all, they ensure that all the flowers are pollinated.’
An example for others
The results were so good that the two brothers will have Koppert's bumblebees pollinate their whole tomato crop this winter (2017-2018). Their working methods have proven to be an example that many of their fellow growers are now following. ‘In 2016, we were the first in the region to switch to pollination using Natupol. We are now seeing many others doing the same.’
For more information:
Koppert Biological Systems
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