Dutch pear grower Antoin Verwoerd can irrigate. That is to the envy of growers elsewhere in the country. Still, that did not stop him from investing in a FrostFans mobile wind machine. This device combats night frost. And Antion bought it mainly from a sustainability point of view.
"We're in a water-rich area. Yet, it's becoming increasingly clear that irrigation and crop protection work against each other. With sprinklers, you try to protect the buds. But every night, we're washing away the protective agents. And the next day, we have to begin all over again. That's like carrying water to the ocean. Besides, pesticides get a little pricier every year," says Antoin. He cultivates Conference, Lukassen, and Doyenné du Comice pears on 13 hectares in total.
Virus and bacteria pressure
"Irrigation works well against frost, but not when it becomes such a huge issue. We have very heavy soil, so all that water destroys all the soil life. That puts you at risk of viruses and bacteria. That brought us to a breaking point. So we started looking for alternatives. I am 32 and want to continue with the business. You, thus, have to consider the environment and the surrounding area," says Antoin.
"That's how we ended up with the FrostFans wind machine. It pulls the warm version layer air down. That then mixes with the cold air on the ground. Also, the continuous wind flow ensures that frost doesn't form on the crop. The propeller is directly driven, and it creates pressure. A relatively small motor is, therefore, adequate to create enormous air movement. And that protects the fruit."
"This method has proven itself locally and overseas. That's why we confidently chose it. The threat of frost, especially in the spring when the flowers are open, increases every year. In recent years we've had a lot of trouble with it. It always seems to hit us. Perhaps because we're further away from built-up areas. So, we get no heat from there," continues Antoin.
"Our Fruitconsult advisers sometimes jokingly say we're in Siberia. It's often 2-3 degrees Celsius colder here than at other growers. And it's often those improbable frosts that can be disastrous. They can spoil your harvest. This machine can't do any harm, in any case. And it's so easy to use. You set the temperature and put it down with enough fuel. The machine then quietly gets to work."
The grower will get the machine in mid-January. Antoin immediately went for the large version. "It's an investment. In ten years, we'll know if it was a good one. The results will show. It's always a gamble. But if it proves itself for a year, you've already earned back what you put in. We think we've made a sustainable choice too. We're sparing the soil life and keeping the crop happy. We can still water sufficiently with drip irrigation. So, the row paths will be kept clean," Antion concludes.
For more information:
C&D Verwoerd VOF
269 Benedeneind Zuidzijde
3405 CJ, Benschop, NL
Tel: +31 (0) 620 547 228
(demo, sales, and technical support)
Tel: +31 (0) 650 284 892
(Import, distribution, sales)
Tel: +31 (0) 644 138 650 (WhatsApp)