DNP 2014

  • On 16 May 2014, the modern Sikes mechanical harvesting mushroom farm in Ysselsteyn, the Netherlands, hosted the fifth edition of the Dutch National Mushroom Day. Several hundred Dutch and a few Belgian visitors registered to attend. The theme at this edition was ‘Innovation’. The Day offered some short lectures on this subject, a farm tour, plenty of networking and French fries.
    Extensive report in Mushroom Business no 65.

    The large, blue machine handles two beds simultaneously and does not operate any slower than a conventional emptying system. It does require two separate collection containers however, which are filled individually by two belts.
    Outside, the machine engineered and supplied by MushComb scrapes casing soil from the compost while the rooms are being emptied so that both residual flows can be removed separately.
    In the roof space that houses the climate installations for the growing rooms, Jan Gielen explained how the climate is managed, not easy on a farm this large. Each growing room is equipped with a fan that supplies a good 30,000 m3 of air per hour. This farm, unusually for a mechanised farm, has a central duct that introduces air into the rooms via a counter rotating inlet in the rooms. The computer was supplied by Christiaens, which means it beats with a Fancom heart.
    The Sikes’ farm is an extensive mechanical harvesting facility, with 16 growing rooms (8 tiers of beds) each measuring 1306 m2. Compost (85-86 kg/m2) is supplied by Walkro Blitterswijck, casing soil by Euroveen and TopTerra. It takes about 2,5 hours to harvest the 1st flush, and 90 minutes for the second one. Sikes mainly harvests in quality classes 2-3-60 and 2-3-80. Total production amounts to 35-37 kg/m2. It all adds up to annual production on this farm of 9.7 million kg per year!
    At the farm, a great deal of attention was paid to fire safety. According to Danny Geijsman from NU SWIFT fire safety, each entrepreneur has to consider three elements– legislation, organisation and insurers. He explained how Sikes’ farm is divided into fire zones to reduce risks.
    The mushrooms are supplied on a large conveyor belt from the growing rooms and are subsequently graded into a maximum of three different grades. The 10-kg crates from Lutèce are automatically filled by weight, stacked and moved to the loading platform for the trucks. This line is capable of processing about 10,000 kg of mushrooms per hour, with a maximum of six operators, depending on the quality being harvested.
    After the lectures, groups could enjoy a guided tour of the premises. Here, visitors are shown the fully automatic mushroom processing line by Verbruggen.
    Uli Schnier, chairman of the Fair Produce organisation told the audience that exploitation of labour in the Netherlands has been reduced, although he admitted that even with this ‘license to produce’ the sector still has some way to go. Other speakers were Jan Gielen (DLV) on bed cooling and Erwin Braak (Interpolis insurance) on farm risk reduction.
    Researcher Rien van der Maas (PPO Randwijk/WUR) talked about upgrading spent mushroom compost via phosphate extraction, a development motivated by the problematic, expensive removal of this product in The Netherlands. The first results are promising.
    Gerard Sikes welcomed the guests to his company. His wife Karin stands in the middle. Ko Hooymans, chairman of the mushroom group at horticultural organisation ZLTO to the right of the stage.
    The successful combi-formula seen at the previous edition – a small-scale conference organised on a farm – was repeated. The congress was held just next to the processing line.
    Entrance to the 5th Dutch National Mushroom Day.
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