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Monsanto announces new Dutch Tomato Experience Center

De Ruiter/Monsanto will build a new Tomato Experience Center in Lansingerland, the Netherlands. The agriculturalist will enter into a cooperation with cultivators from Brabander Zantman who will oversee, among other things, the cultivation in the new demonstration greenhouse (8,000m2).

A full lobby at Monsanto in Bergschenhoek. There, Vice President Juan Fereira signed the contract for the Tomato Experience Center, TEC 2.0, which will be newly built. Construction will commence in Lansingerland next year, and 300 different tomato strains will be planted in the new demonstration greenhouse in October. In addition to the greenhouse, there will also be a visitor’s centre. “We are pleased to show what our innovations will provide for the supply chain and consumers,” Juan said. “Not just strains that have been on the market for a long time already, but also newly developed varieties.”

By now, tomatoes have been planted for the last time in the current Tomato Experience Center. This demonstration greenhouse was opened 13 years ago, and no longer met current desires and requirements of the market regarding size, cultivation and phytosanitary possibilities. The new centre should be able to receive about 1,000 visitors annually. From horticulture, but also from supply chain links further removed: retail and consumers, for example. “In TEC 2.0 we will have all the space for the current cultivation methods, but also for applying new techniques, such as the Internet of Things and plant sensors,” Juan continues.

Juan was not the only signatory; cultivators Rob Brabander and Paul Zantman also signed the contracts yesterday. They will work in the TEC 2.0 for the next five years. The two partners are now cultivating bell peppers and tomatoes in separate locations, and, additionally, have been performing screenings for De Ruiter since 2011. “We have been working together for about six years now. At first, we received some sceptical responses about working with an American multinational, but we are quite satisfied. It is rare to find such a friendly company,” says Paul.

Under supervision

When the plans for a new Tomato Experience Center became know, Rob and Paul were immediately involved. After development, they will exploit the cultivation. “If we personally do it, the manner of cultivation will remain ours. That means it would remain improvement cultivation, but we want to be close to cultivators,” says Jan Kamper, head of the department technology development for De Ruiter. “We are in charge of cultivation,” Rob adds. “As a cultivator, you make different decisions than when you are an agriculturalist. We make decisions based on practice.” For the same reasons, the trial center will be equipped with various weighing and measuring systems, but not with diffuse glass or 100 per cent LED lighting. “We want to connect with conventional cultivation, and most cultivators do not have diffuse glass or LED lighting. We will, however, have illumination on a third of the area. That is what cultivators are working with nowadays. Furthermore, the greenhouse has been divided into four segments, so that we can better guide the various varieties. In this manner, we can anticipate every development.”

Jan Kamper in conversation with Samir Amghar, policy advisor greenhouse horticulture for the municipality Lansingerland.

Alderman Abee in conversation with Rob Brabander and Paul Zantman. 

The Monsanto team involved with this project.
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