British grower Mike Flux from APS Group in Canterbury, United Kingdom is a long time Priva client and the first grower to use Plantonomy on his own crops. We wanted to hear all about Mike’s experience working with Plantonomy in his greenhouse.
Can you tell us more about your company and the market you’re aiming for?
“We (APS Group) grow tomatoes on 12.5 hectares, of which we grow 5 .7 hectares using Plantonomy. In the near future we want to expand and grow more tomatoes. We have enough energy to make this expansion possible and due to the upcoming Brexit, importing will become more expensive and less appealing. This makes the demand British produce higher so we’re only producing for the UK.”
What kind of tomatoes does the British customer look for?
“The supermarkets and costumers are after a good quality tomato that’s ripe and tasty. British customers are willing to pay a higher price for that.”
For how long do you’ve been working with Priva products?
“I’ve been working with Priva since around 1985. So you can say I’ve really grown up with Priva and always come back to their products. For me the benefit of Priva products is that they are very user-friendly.”
The program does something that I’m not able to.
What is working with Plantonomy like?
“The model creates a very active environment in most types of weather conditions. When the plant wakes up in the morning it’s to an active environment and it will keep it that way during the day and evening. On dark days there’s more bottom heat and on a bright day the humidity is maintained, using the vent position. It maintains the maximum water intake during the day. This also helps control the temperature of the glasshouse by using the plant rather than opening or closing vents.”
Has it been a positive experience growing with Plantonomy?
“First of all, it’s very easy to work with. It has worked very well in this hot summer. It has a positive relationship with the climate and irrigation control manager. Because it worked so well, I’ve tried to mimic it on the crops where we didn’t install it, but it’s just not achievable. The program is doing something that a person cannot.”
There’s less pressure on the grower because the program is doing it for you.
How will it help growers in the future?
“Plantonomy will be a good solution for the future to still get people up to speed more quickly on growing. It’s helpful because experienced growers are getting older. It’s also a more scientific approach to growing. My interpretation of what the plant wants and needs might be different from somebody else’s. You can take that decision away because the computer is doing more of that for you.”
How do you see your job changing in working with this program?
“As a grower you’re not in competition with the program. It has taken growing to another level but you still need the grower. You’re more in control; you need to make fewer decisions. There’s less pressure on the grower because the program is doing it for you. It’s hard the wrap your head around to stop worrying about the temperatures. It’s going against what I’ve been doing for the last 30 years. It’s amazing how the plants have responded with the extreme temperatures of the past year. They’ve stayed more active during the hot period.”
It sounds too good to be true, but working with Plantonomy we’ve grown a lot more cost-efficient, with a much higher yield.
What are the biggest improvements now that you use Plantonomy?
“It saves time and improves the quality of the fruit. There’s almost no cracking in the fruit anymore, so a lot less waste. The ripening of the truss is more equal so the whole truss is ripe at the same moment. The people who havest are usually being slowed down by picking off bad fruits and dealing with other imperfections. These improvements make the labor a lot easier so it saves us on labor.
It sounds too good to be true but working with Plantonomy we’ve grown a lot more economically, with a much higher yield. For the second year I predict even better results.”
Are you able to leave your crops behind more easily, to take a day off for example?
“Yes. A grower alone can adjust only using whats is visible to him. The program is more reactive than you can be as a grower. Using the program I can now go out and let my son be in charge. If needed I can check my phone and make changes in a very user-friendly way.”