A possible solution to prepare for a season with fewer or inexperienced workers is to work with cultivation aids such as truss arches, crop hooks and plant clips. There is now a higher demand for these among European growers, notes Arjen de Haan, who joined Paskal last month.
"If one or two experienced workers disappear, you have to start thinking of an alternative. Growers notice that this can become reality this season and that they may be able to get through the season with fewer or inexperienced workers. They are looking for solutions," says Arjen. "The risk when inexperienced workers are in the tomato crop and bind the plants, is that they damage plants or sometimes break the heads, and that chance is much smaller with clipping plants instead of binding. Also risks, like dropping a plant, resulting in damaging the head or the flowers, is something growers want to avoid, even if it means investing in Paskal hooks clips or truss arches. The same goes for the tomato hooks: since it makes it possible also for inexperienced workers to lower the plants faster, it's an investment recouped rapidly during the season.”
It’s exactly this way of thinking that has resulted in a higher demand for the greenhouse solutions of Paskal, the company where Arjen has been responsible for the Belgian, Dutch, German, Polish and UK markets since March 1st. "We quickly went through our own stocks, but fortunately we can quickly replenish as well," he says.
Although this might seem like a flying start with a new company, it’s for sure not what Arjen would have opted for. For him personally it means he is only able to visit growers to a limited extent, and visiting the Israeli headquarters of Paskal was not an option. "Fortunately, I can still help growers, and with Linda and Olga already have an experienced team in the Netherlands, so they help me a lot. And by now I've also mastered our CRM and our computer systems," he laughs.
A Paskal Optima clip or a Paskal Pro Turbo hook are examples of products that helps the grower to keep the cultivation going when working with fewer qualified workers. Optimizing labor in the greenhouse is central to all Paskal growing solutions. "Increasing productivity per employee, or increasing the quality of work", summarizes Arjen. “That’s a central part of our business.”
Clips and truss arches are helping to make the work in the greenhouse easier
As shown by Paskal’s wide range of products, this can be done in many different ways. "Some solutions are much more technical," says Arjen. “For example, we have created flower markers, to help the breeder to mark and control pollinated flowers. Otherwise you have to look at all the flowers every day - that's a lot of work and you have to be careful not to damage them. With Flower Markers you can get up to 3 times more production from the same person. So you can save up to 65% on labor. But more importantly, productivity goes up, and with well-qualified staff you can do more work, so you need fewer 'hands'."
Another product for more efficient use of labor is the smart irrigation monitoring system that is called DrainVision, which can be used to manage the irrigation as well as monitor the volume and EC of drain water - something that is particularly relevant during this time of the season. "In the past, a grower would walk around the greenhouse, have scales in certain places to see which tap area needed water.. With DrainVision, you can see exactly where water is needed and you can see it from behind your computer or smartphone. This reduces the number of contact moments with the plant and automates the observations. All in all, you increase both productivity and quality. In this way, we help the grower at all levels of the cultivation process to use the labor in the greenhouse more efficiently".