Who are the men and women of Waterman?

In this column, we introduce one of our employees by asking them a few questions about themselves. Why? Because we’re proud of our team!

Red Light soil blocks

In early March, growers Kuunders and Derikx in South Holland planted 1.5 million red onion soil blocks. The blocks are laid out on a machine by hand, and the machine plants them neatly in the ground.

The plots are located in Deurne and Ysselsteyn, where the soil is warmer and the crops can grow faster. The soil blocks with Red Light onions by De Groot en Slot were first allowed to germinate in a greenhouse. Waterman Onions hopes that this method will allow growers to bring the new harvest of red seed onions to market even earlier.

All of the seeds germinated, and the crop has reached a nice even height, so the plot already looks very promising. The project is very labour-intensive, however, which makes it somewhat more expensive. Each hectare will have to produce several kilogrammes to make it break even. It is important that the onions have enough nutrients to achieve a good yield, so that the grower can harvest a healthy product.

Wim Waterman: Finally a new season!

“It’s that time of year again: the season for new Dutch onions, which traditionally happens together with the season for new Dutch herring! Both are as fresh as they are delicious!” For Wim Waterman, the new season can’t start soon enough. “I was really disappointed in the second half of the last season, so it seemed like it would never end.” But after a false start, the first half of the season made everything better again. “It’s been a spectacular season, with lots of records broken”, adds a beaming Wim.

We’re still packaging the last harvest at the moment, but Waterman Onions has been able to add the import harvest over the past few weeks. “The new Dutch harvest will complement that very nicely”, says Wim. The new harvest received an enthusiastic welcome, and Wim expects that the export motor will be running at full speed soon, although the growers did face some challenges this year. “The unpredictable growth due to the unpredictable weather made it harder for growers to harvest a good product this year.” But Wim is cautiously optimistic; “With excellent cooperation it will definitely be possible to supply the same excellent quality as the first half of the season, so we’re looking forward to (hopefully) harvesting good quality and setting new records!”

Grower in focus

Meirink Akkerbouw in Oosternijkerk, Friesland, started using a Steketee camera-controlled hoe this season. The tractor is guided by GPS, and the camera ‘sees’ the onions and steers the tractor towards them. Meirink farms around 21 acres of seed onions under the PlanetProof seal of approval. PlanetProof is a sustainable method for growing onions that allows you as a grower to stand out from the competition. The onions are mainly sold to retailers. Meirink grows red and yellow onions for Waterman.

Yme Meirink explains: “We use the hoe because it allows us to control weeds with less GBM, which makes our crops even more sustainable. We also hope that the market will see the added value of the PlanetProof seal of approval. It also has the benefit of putting a bit more oxygen into the soil.” The loamy sand of the Meirink farm can form a crust after heavy rainfall.

Photo: The tractor of Meirink is guided by GPS, the camera ‘sees’ the onions and steers the tractor towards them.