Het Broek Softfruit
More than 25 years ago, Arnoud van Asseldonk set up Het Broek Softfruit to grow strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Het Broek Softfruit is located in Veghel in North Brabant. Besides growing fruit, the company also sells strawberry, raspberry and blackberry young plants.
Meteor Systems and Het Broek Softfruit have been working together since 2002 and have gone on to complete several exciting projects together. They are currently working on a strawberry tray system on rails for propagating strawberry plants across 5 hectares. The strength of this concept lies in the fact that the density of trays and therefore the stand density of the plants are higher, which results in higher yields.
Traditional tray fields are usually found outdoors, but this project is being carried out in a greenhouse. Hanging from the top of the greenhouse are growing gutters containing strawberry plants, from which tip cuttings are taken. The cuttings are placed in strawberry trays at ground level. This pioneering growing method saves space and is cost-efficient.
Along every row of strawberry trays there is an upright cutting edge which holds the stems up slightly, allowing easier mechanical de-runnering. The strawberry trays are raised off the ground on rails to prevent transmission of diseases from splashing water.
With fixed spacings between the cups, this system offers plenty of opportunities for mechanising and automating the cultivation process. A crop trolley travels along the rails between the sides of the greenhouse for the various cultivation operations such as planting, spraying and finishing. This crop trolley offers additional automation options, both for the trays and the strawberry plants on the suspended growing gutters.
Ben and Benjamin DeGoede were eager to innovate further and switched to the Deep Flow Technique (DFT) in 2021. This technique is hydroponic growing of leafy vegetables and herbs on a pond in a greenhouse on Hydroponic Floating Rafts from Meteor Systems.