How many horticultural companies are capable of planting 2.4 million cuttings per day; that is, 12 million a week or 500 million a year? These are staggering numbers and a testament to the existence of the often-vaunted Dutch horticultural cluster, which accumulates so much knowledge and technology in this field that it becomes possible for such companies to rise.
No daylight at all reaches the bottom two cultivation layers.
A few days ago, following a number of trials, Deliflor Hoogveld, the new rooting company of Deliflor (part of Beekenkamp) and Kreling Chrysanthemums, was officially opened. Cuttings from production sites in Africa are machine-driven into pressed clumps of soil, which then glide automatically on roller tables through the 8.5-hectare greenhouse, which is divided into three growing layers and fully equipped with climate control technology.
Cuttings on the way to crating, the area where the cuttings are rooted, cuttings ready for delivery, and the area where the crates are put on tables.
Virtually no manual work is required in the entire process. 42 cutting robots, with a capacity of 4,000 cuttings per hour, fill 22,000 trays per day, which are sent into the greenhouse on rolling tables. Here, these tables (6,000 of them), each equipped with 45 crates, move around the greenhouse for about 12 days, after which the cutting is sufficiently rooted to be grown into flowers at the nursery.
The elevator system.
All handling and internal logistics is carried out by an impressive machine park to which numerous parties have contributed, and which, partly because of its enormous scale and the fact that various steps are compartmentalized, is like a complex industrial assembly line. Crates are placed on the conveyor belt, filled with planted cuttings, transported past the cutting robots, placed on tables, guided through the greenhouse fully automatically with an ingenious elevator and roll system, and finally stacked and palletized, all by machines. 35 personnel coordinate and feed the machines, so to speak, but do not touch anything, neither in the greenhouse nor with their fingers.
From top left clockwise: Sjaak van der Tak gives an opening talk; shareholders/owners Peter Zaat, Wilma and Jan Kreling, and An and Margriet Beekenkamp; the new logo; and Sjaak van der Tak, director Otto van Tuijl, Peter Zaat and Jan Kreling, in charge of the official opening.
The top and last cultivation layer, in which the cutting is 'hardened.'
This body of machinery and transport systems takes a quarter of the company's area, or 1.2 hectares of floor space. This also includes space for the storage of (empty and full) pallets and crates, as well as the entire climate control, water treatment, and energy (supplied by 750 MW of sun and 2 CHPs) systems. Cuttings are later mostly delivered to various nurseries owned by the Kreling cooperative, so most, with only a few exceptions, remain in the region. This does, however, not apply to the flowers, which eventually travel all over the world.
Having a dry wine or another drink.
Visitors, who arrive in large numbers, bear witness to the company's local status and prominence (Kreling's various production sites make it the largest chrysanthemum grower in the world and a not insignificant generator of regional employment) and are given ample opportunity to marvel at all the technology. After walking for about one kilometer, they are generously treated to coffee, sandwiches, and a drink.
Click here for an impression and/or watch the video above.