Grodan organised the seventh successive edition of the 'International Propagation Seminar’ in mid-September. This year's venue was the coastal resort of Scheveningen. Propagators and their suppliers travelled from all corners of the globe to expand on their knowledge of propagation and add new contacts to their network.
In view of the high attendance with 90 participants representing 18 countries, Grodan provided a platform to achieve both those aims. The organisation and details of the programme were in the hands of Harriëtte Rademakers and Hans van Herk - a duo with a long track record in organising this seminar.
The theme ‘Knowledge is KEY!!’ was a well-considered choice. It is a talking point that occurs again and again during visits all over the world and is sometimes highly relevant and sometimes less. Propagators are on a constant quest to initiate improvements and innovation - and knowledge is the key. These improvements generally relate to mechanisation and automated systems that can reduce the labour input and improve the quality of the organisation. Actually, purchasing a machine is relatively simple compared to fitting it in the organisational structure at your company.
One company in the Netherlands – the cradle of plant propagation – that has noted immense growth in recent years is Vreugdenhil Young Plants in De Lier. During their presentation, Cock Groenendaal, Production/Operations Manager, clearly explained the relationship between the growth of the company and developments at organisational level. The company grew physically by > 10 ha, the growth of the organisation was characterised by internal growth and personal development and advancement. Multiple approaches can be taken to recruit more staff, but offering opportunities for personal development, and creating flexibility adapted to suit the workforce (choice to work at the weekend, for example) is key. This process must be managed top-down but also on the work floor itself. The result is a flexible organisation that currently has a sufficient labour pool.
This was followed by four ‘speedy presentations’ that jumped into the technical aspects of propagation in greater detail. The speakers were:
- GSPP – Claire Peusens;
- Hortiquip – Edward Keijzer & Ad Kranendonk;
- MechaTronix – Koen Vangorp & Patrick Casteleijn;
- Grodan – Thomas Peters.
These sessions ended the official part of the day. The participants then enjoyed drinks during a network opportunity before embarking on a guided tour of historic Scheveningen. The day finished with an informal, buffet style meal.
Day two is traditionally reserved for a guided tour of a nursery, or a company closely involved in plant propagation. The destinations on this occasion were Vreugdenhil Young Plants and Koppert Cress.
The greenhouse that now covers an area of 10 hectares was expanded to its current size in four phases of 2.5 hectares. The structure is home to an impressive, state-of-the-art nursery. Wide bays in sections of the greenhouse covering approx. 5000 m², adjustable assimilation lights and three controllable screens - for sunlight, energy and light - all imply that plant growth can be steered highly accurately. The tomato plants growing in Plantop NG 2.0 were very uniform, compact and generative; they start to flower after just a few days.
An extra dimension was added to the visit by a demo of Hortiquip's automatic stick insertion system, which had been demonstrated via a YouTube film at the seminar a day earlier.
During the short corporate introduction there were various opportunities to taste the produce and be delighted by flavours guests had never experienced before.
The plants in the greenhouse are grown efficiently using high-tech applications such as LED and raised cultivation tables.
Everything about the company aims to convey a message of sustainable cultivation methods combined with tasty produce.
End of programme
These two visits signalled the end of Grodan's International Propagation Seminar. Looking back, the organisers and participants can conclude that it was a highly successful event. Edition number eight is scheduled for next year.