Sometimes big innovations are very small. At the HortiContact, a small, silver-colored tomato truss support could be found at the Hortiware stand. With this new CROP CURV, Dirk-Jan Haas hopes to save growers tons of money: both in plastic-free cultivation waste and in the processing costs thereof. "The waste processor does not consider the metal residue to be a contaminant of the organic cultivation waste.
Plastic-free cultivation waste
By using a metal ring to tie the crop to the rope instead of a plastic clip and using biodegradable rope, Dirk-Jan Haas of Hortiware has long seen opportunities to ultimately achieve plastic-free cultivation waste. In tomato cultivation, however, plastic truss arches were still a barrier: both in terms of cost and time to break down.
"Using bio-rope in combination with plastic truss supports doesn't make sense to me. There are biodegradable clips and truss arches on the market available, but they come at a cost: instead of a bio-clip, I can put several metal rings on it for the same price, even with the current price of steel," he says. In cooperation with growers and waste processors, he, therefore, developed a metal truss support.
Right: with the TOM-System, a metal ring is placed around the plant, an alternative to twisting or plastic clips.
It seems like a simple step, but it has been preceded by a lot of research. After all, the labor-friendliness of the metal tools must be good, too: you don't want them to hook into each other like Christmas bauble hooks. It must be possible to do the bracketing at a good pace to keep the product interesting in terms of price, and the truss support must, of course, be strong enough. Dirk Jan tells us that the process has been successfully completed, and the metal truss support has now been patented.
Testing in the greenhouse
The truss support has been tested among various growers and actually works in the same way as a plastic truss support. "The moment of putting it on is a little later, so it is on properly right away. You leave them on until the harvest: you cut off the truss with the clip and all and cut again to let the stalk with the truss clip on it fall between the leaf litter."
The brace can then be removed from the crop waste using a magnet. "Otherwise, it will rust, especially in combination with water, within a few months and go back into nature." This means that in Germany, for example, the cultivation waste can be spread on the land, where it is used again as green manure for other crops. And in the Netherlands, waste processors do not consider the metal residues to be contaminants in the cultivation waste.
Dirk-Jan Haas of Hortiware (right) with the Agrifast team at the HortiContact 2022. The companies have already been working together for some time to market Agrifast's TOM-System. With the CROP CURV, they are taking a new step in realizing plastic-free cultivation waste.
"At the end of the season, growers are left with a waste heap that they have to pay more and more for. The composter keeps asking what the solution will be for those mountains of rope that need to be processed. In principle, rope can be reused, but because there is so much organic waste in it and it cannot be separated with the current techniques, it has to be dumped," says Dirk-Jan, who has been a dealer of the TOM system for years, where plastic clips are replaced by metal rings. "In combination with biodegradable rope and metal truss supports, the cultivation waste is plastic-free and completely organic. With that, we can bring the story we started with the metal rings full circle."