"At Syngenta we call this our active greenhouse. Of course this is not the only place where we breed tomatoes, but here breeding is done by using the most advanced techniques. Everything is possible: we can breed for the entire world because we can simulate all circumstances. Therefore, with this location we will increase quality and stability worldwide." It was a super proud Ruud Kaagman (Global Crop United Head Tomato) that this week showed the new Syngenta hotspot Tomato Vision. Digitally - of course - but fortunately that's not an issue thanks to al the techniques incorporated in the greenhouse.
Just one year after its building was announced, the new R&D and marketing facility called Tomato Vision was officially opened this month in Maasland, the Netherlands. Being the chairman of the day, Ruud guided the participants digitally through the building and introduced various colleagues on his way. Arend Schot was involved in Tomato Vision from the very beginning. He has dreamed of this for a long time. "This is such a great facility." Arend said before picking up the scissors and officially opening Tomato Vision.
Entering the chain worldwide
As if they knew on forehand what would happen to the world the team with Syngenta selected the theme 'Improve, Inspire and Connect' for the new centre. "It suits us - it's who and what Syngenta is", says Marie Legendre, one of the team members of the Tomato Vision project group.
Now digitally but hopefully in the near future also physically, an area of 1.500 m2 is open to visitors to offer them a first insight into upcoming introductions along with a deeper understanding of Syngenta’s whole active glasshouse portfolio. "Of course, we would like to welcome our visitors physically as soon as possible, but for now we can bring you Tomato Vision at your desk, wherever this is", said Ruud.
Rik Lootens explained how demonstration and development of new products are the goals of the new center and how the visitors play an important roll in this. "In our breeding activities, contact with the entire chain is crucial and that's something we can intensify thanks to the new Centre. We can will translate the input from the global tomato chain into the development of new varieties.”
"Hygiene and biosecurity conditions already challenged the access to glasshouses and the current context makes meeting in person difficult. By using modern digital communication tools and virtual reality technology, visitors will be provided with a worthwhile experience at Tomato Vision, making this centre a truly global resource", Ruud added.
Kris Goen, product manager at Syngenta showed the demonstration space and explained how they want to be at the heart of greenhouse horticulture with it. "We have so much to offer for the tomato market and as Rik said, will connect with the whole supply chain from here in order to further improve and answer to the markets demands." With over 20 varieties waiting to be shown, we will make sure to come back for that.
Into the greenhouse
Even though the digital opening might not be what they expected in the first place, there's also some positive sights: without fear of viruses the greenhouse could be entered as well, all from behind the computer screen. Arthur van Marrewijk showed how the plants were planteed here in late December. Right from the start, a lot of data is collected during the cultivation, so that customers can provide direct advice and inspiration.
Among other things also Hololens is used in the greenhouse. This enables them to give virtual tours. Arthur demonstrates exactly how it works - a futuristic way of visiting a greenhouse.
Happy breeders, happy life
Also the greenhouse is where a lot of the real breeding work is being done, of course. Hoayang Duo is one of the breeders in Tomato Vision showed one of the most recent developments: a new variety of yellow snack tomatoes - that have been approved by Ruud's very picky children.
It's not the only thing there that makes her happy. The centre includes 14.000 m2 of high-tech glasshouse where 800 unique new hybrids are tested and selected for specific market needs, using ultra-modern and traditional breeding technologies.
In addition to the extensive climatic toolbox with what the breeding area can be controlled, there's a set-up for lit and unlit cultivation.
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