Anyone for Lettuce?
This week I had the privilege of visiting Mr. Frans Nouws in the Netherlands. Mr. Nouws is a lettuce grower who is now farming around 200ha, entirely for lettuce production. However, it was not always done on this scale. He started in partnership with his mother-in-law on 2ha about 25 years ago. They started off growing all kinds of produce including leeks, carrots and cucumbers but eventually specialised in lettuces. Now farming 200ha and exporting to places such as Moscow and Dubai, Mr. Nouws can be considered a specialist and certainly an innovator.
Today, they employ up to 60 people during peak times, some of which are dedicated GPS users to help run the 9 RTK ParaDyme systems on the farm. These systems are an integral part of the production process and have to be reliable and perform 100% of the time. Quick and efficient support from the dealer is also absolutely necessary and is provided by Kerstens Voeten b.v. Marcel Voeten is a very professional and engaged Ag Leader specialist. (sub dealer of the Ag Leader distributor, Louis Nagel). He is also using a 5 sensor OptRx system to variably apply fertilizer to his lettuces. His goal is to be able to variably apply fertiliser to each of the 5 rows per pass. And perhaps to each plant in the future! Mr. Nouws is convinced about the added value of OptRx sensors for scanning, monitoring and VRA applications and the 5 sensors are only a starting point.
Deutz AgroXtra 3.57 fitted with a 5 sensor OptRx system and hydraulically controlled fertiliser applicator.
I found the whole operation extremely interesting and Mr. Nouws was also interesting to speak with and has some great ideas to help Ag Leader expand our products. But what I actually found most interesting was the equipment to which the ParaDymes was fitted to. In many cases, such equipment is fitted to shiny new tractors but it is not the case here:
Steyr 540. Age is unknown but probably 20+ years old. Also a Steyr 760. Both had to have hydraulic steering added to allow the ParaDyme to be installed. They also have heavily modified axles to accommodate the lettuce beds. Frans is using controlled traffic to minimize soil compaction and has adapted all his machinery for this purpose. ParaDyme systems are used for planting, weeding, fertilizing and also Controlled Traffic Farming.
When I asked Mr. Nouws about the age of his tractors, his reply was “tractors do not make me money, ParaDyme does. Why spend €100.000 on a new tractor when mine do exactly the same job and are easy to repair and maintain?”
I could not argue with that!