Paul Jeannet, manager of UrbanFarmers in The Hague, uses the Qlipr system in four different crops. After three months of testing he wants to say his opinion: "It is very easy to use as soon as you are used to it.It saves time and - that is the biggest advantage in my opinion - the clips can be reused after each harvest cycle We can easily separate the clips from the plants and compost the plants, because there are no plastic rope or plastic clips in the back.There is nothing wasted."
The Qlipr system fits perfectly into the UrbanFarmers philosophy, which is based on adding value and minimizing waste. This philosophy is put into practice in the urban farm in The Hague, which consists of a 1,000-square-meter roof greenhouse on a former office building and a Tilapia fish farm. The waste water from the fish is converted into nutrients for the plants. Various types of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and aubergines grow in the greenhouse, in a hydroponics system. The water that the plants do not use is purified and goes back to the fish farm, which reduces the total water consumption by 80%. Pesticides are prohibited, only biological crop protection is permitted. The products are sold to customers in the region in order to minimize the number of food miles. "We grow fresher, tastier and healthier products, as close to our customers as possible, and we minimize the amount of waste," explains Paul Jeannet.
The fresh revolution
Paul Jeannet (24) started a year ago in The Hague, after an internship at UrbanFarmers' first farm (UF001) in Basel. He studied organic farming in Switzerland before he started the 'the fresh revolution'. "In the beginning we only grew lettuce and tomatoes, but our gastro partners preferred more diversity, so we replaced some of the tomatoes with cucumbers, aubergines, peppers and other types of tomatoes." The lettuce department was retained. "
Paul Jeannet about Qlipr
"It's very different from the normal plastic clip we used first, but once you're used to it, it's very simple."
Paul contacted Cor Pellikaan six months ago and he became interested in Qlipr. "We wanted to give it a try and see if it would work in different crops.Three months ago we started using the system in the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and aubergines.It is very easy to use: We take the bottom clip and place it at the top and lower the plant at the same time.It is very different from the normal plastic clip we used first, but once you're used to it, it's very simple. " Lowering the plants is done once a week in the tomatoes, three times every two weeks in the cucumbers and once every two weeks in the peppers and aubergines.
Cor Pellikaan, the inventor of the Qlipr system, was looking for a project to test his clips in peppers and aubergines. Until three months ago, the system, which he invented in 1996, was only used by growers of tomatoes and cucumbers worldwide. The system consists of a crop hook of 1.40 meters and two clips. Halfway through the plants extra crop wires have been stretched to attach the hooks.
The main advantages of the system are, according to Pellikaan: "It is very easy to use, everyone can work with it, it saves labor, because you can remove leaves and shoots in a corridor, cut bunches and lower the plants. better for the growth of the plants, because they are less damaging. " Paul Jeannet confirms that he saves up to 6 hours per week thanks to the Qlipr system, compared to ordinary plastic clips.
The main advantage of the Qlipr system is sustainability, says Pellikaan. "My first customer, who bought them 18 years ago, still uses the same clips, but of course you have to disinfect them at the end of each crop cycle, but that is very easy, with steam, chemicals or pasteurization. After two years of thorough testing of this method, simply put the clips in a box on a trolley and cover them with a cloth, heat four tubes to 60 degrees Celsius for three days.
Paul also calls this a big advantage of the Qlipr system, but there is more. "After the cultivation no plastic - rope or clips - remains on the plants, so we do not need to throw anything away and we can shred the crop residues for composting, which also makes it much easier for us to dispose of vegetable waste. we have to transport everything with the lift. "
Qlipr versus traditional clips
How many clips are needed to support the weight of the plants? Pellikaan: "At the beginning of the season, a clip is sufficient, which you attach 40 cm below the head of the plant, and if the plants become heavier, you can add a second clip." New is the crop hook with two stoppers: one at 50 cm and one at the bottom of the hook. This makes it possible to use the same hook for tomatoes and cucumbers.
The investment in the Qlipr system is higher than with traditional plastic clips, but they last a lifetime, says Cor. "You do not need expensive trolleys with hydraulic platforms because the plants grow at a fixed working height of 160 cm, so you can use cheaper trolleys, which in most cases will save enough money to buy my clips."
Paul Jeannet has become a fan of Qlipr in a short time: "Leaf cutting is now much more pleasant, we no longer suffer from rope or plastic clips on the underside of the plant, which make the work more difficult." Would he recommend this system to his colleagues? "Yes, it is really an interesting system to work with, you only have to buy it once and then you can use it every year."
Dutch Movie Founder Cor Pellikaan about Qlipr
Pellikaan thinks that growers can also benefit from the Qlipr system in the future. He is working on a mechanical system to pollinate vegetable plants without the use of bumblebees. The system has been thoroughly tested, the launch is planned for this year. He also works on a robot that can harvest and defoliate tomatoes at the same time, but that is still a prototype. It's still a bit secret, so we stop asking questions here. It should be clear: Cor Pellikaan is still working hard for international horticulture on simple solutions that work.
This article came about in collaboration with UrbanFarmers and Qlipr.
Text and photos: Mario Bentvelsen.
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