Anyone currently walking into the greenhouses of sweet pepper grower Sweetpoint in Middenmeer, Netherlands, will see the entire heating system and the cultivation gutters hanging in mid-air. Now, this is not unheard of, but the fact that the cultivation gutters have also been lifted up temporarily is rather special. The grower has chosen to replace the gutters after renovating their greenhouse. Garben van der Velden of HortiClean, the company that first raised the gutters and will later replace the ground cover and replace the gutters, provides an update.
"The greenhouses here are about fifteen years old. Over the years, the ground has slowly started to subside. As a result, the pipe rail carts no longer ran properly and you saw that here and there, with planks or some tiles, the pipes were kept straight so that the carts continued to run properly. Now the decision has been made to renovate the entire greenhouse at once and the ground will be leveled again. Normally, you would then put everything aside and roll up the gutters and replace them, and that's what we will do, but because the gutters are still in good condition, we decided to hoist them up too."
The result is that, currently, everything hangs 2.40 meters above the ground: an extraordinary sight. "At the moment, contractor Van Etten is leveling the ground. Their machines can now move under the pipes and gutters without any problems. In about a week and a half, our team will come back to lower and install everything. Growers sometimes have people for this too, but not all personnel are suitable for lifting pipes and gutters. Our people are experienced in this. We then also ensure that a new ground cloth is made. This way, the grower has a neat and clean greenhouse again in about three weeks."
The HortiClean team, which consists of a 'good group of regular guys', is usually mainly active in the crop changes of ornamental horticulture, although more and more projects in vegetable cultivation also come along every year. "This year is no exception, now that quite a few growers are changing crops or transferring their greenhouse to an ornamental plant cultivator. For example, we are currently removing an entire pipe rail system and the old concrete paths so that a new concrete floor can be made for the cultivation of bedding plants, which used to be a pepper greenhouse. In addition, at LKP Plants we removed and rebuilt the complete roller table system so that the cultivation floor could be renovated."