Joost Derks is responsible for propagating the raspberry and blackberry long canes at Het Broek Substrate Plants B.V. His other responsibilities include organizational tasks, such as planning, fertilizing, and crop care. A versatile role, which continually challenges him to examine his profession as a horticultural specialist and the organization from a different perspective. This sparks clever ideas and identifies opportunities for innovation. To help transform the ideas into reality, he and the owner approached other partners, including Bato.
“We wanted to grow raspberries at a height to minimize the risk of soil-borne diseases. If the plants are raised above soil level, it is harder for diseases and organisms to come into contact with the plants. This benefits plant health and allows us to reduce our use of crop protection products even further. We passed our challenge to Bato and at the same time raised the issue of logistics."
Discussing ideas and prototypes
“Until recently, the pots with raspberry plants were placed on the soil. But the legs under the pots were not high enough, so the roots still grew to the soil underneath. To solve this problem, we met with Bato several times to discuss our ideas. A representative of Bato's R&D department was also present at the meetings. That quickly confirmed the feasibility of actually producing what we wanted at an affordable price for both parties."
Investment for the future
“Bato soon had the first prototypes ready. This is, naturally, the advantage of an agile and flexible organization that produces in the Netherlands. The end result is a 90 cm long tray which the raspberry pots fit into exactly. All the pots are now raised five centimeters above soil level and spaced at a perfect distance from each other. All the plants receive the same amount of light. At the end of the season, we simply stack the trays and leave them stacked on the field so the wind can't blow them away. This involves hardly any extra work. This investment means we can look to a future with healthy plants that require fewer pesticides.”
Hans Luijkx, Bato, with Joost Derks, Het Broek Substrate Plants