Eric Vereijken is the owner and director of an advanced, 47-hectare tomato cultivation business. His enterprise is distributed across six locations in Brabant and Westland, two regions in the Netherlands that are of international significance for the ornamental plant and produce industries.
. Thanks to his many years of experience, Vereijken has optimised the cultivation of tomatoes in greenhouses. However, there was one factor that threatened that success until recently: the gall mite. It is a damaging pest that cannot be seen by the naked eye. However, the effects of the gall mite are plainly visible. Vereiken says "The mite consumes leaves and stems in the greenhouses. You only realise it once the leaves have begun to fade. By then, the gall mite has already been at work for a while". The tomato farmer noticed that, recently, this pest had appeared in his greenhouses more frequently and in greater numbers.
"The risk of realising too late that gall mites have been active continues to grow. If plants are harmed too much, they die and the damage is significant. First, we tried to find the gall mites with a magnifying glass, but they were just too small. After that, I tried putting them under a traditional microscope at the office. That allows you to see them. However, that means you have to pull samples from throughout the greenhouse, with the risk of new infections. The effect turned out to be very limited. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get a good idea of their spread using this method. Furthermore, this approach is extremely time-consuming and, ultimately, expensive as well".
Customised work for maximum effect
The business owner was at the end of his rope and consulted the experts at LTO Glaskracht, the Dutch trade association for greenhouse cultivation. "LTO Glaskracht brainstormed with us and that is how we found out about Dino-Lite. Dino-Lite Europe came to our business for a demonstration". And the rest is history. Eric Vereijken's teams have since been working with multiple models of these mobile microscopes, which have been adjusted precisely to their needs. He feels that he has finally got a handle on the problem. "My employees walk through the plants, determine whether they have brown stems or leaves, and mark them. These plants are treated for gall mites. The person responsible for disease control regularly checks a number of plants with the Dino-Lite. These send your smartphone or tablet a razor-sharp image of the leaf or stem on location, magnified up to 230 times. Since we can also create videos with the Dino-Lite, we can now see whether the mites are living or dead for the first time. That is important, because, after a localised spraying, we can see whether a treatment has had any effect".
Localised spraying is customised work. Spraying the entire greenhouse does not make any sense and is expensive. Furthermore, buyers in the sector do not appreciate pest control agents being used without careful thought. With the aid of the Dino-Lite, Vereijken's staff are able to find the exact locations where concentrated spraying will have the maximum effect.
Suitable for other plants as well
Eric says "The gall mite is a growing problem for the cultivation of tomatoes under grow lights. It is high time that for an effective tool that can be used to determine the level of infestation and required control efforts quickly and well". He expects that his fellow cultivators can benefit from handy, mobile, digital Dino-Lite microscopes, just like he did. Dino-Lite can make just as much of a difference for other plants with gall mites and different pests. Dino-Lite appears to be a solution for promptly detecting mites, lice, parasites, spores and other disease carriers in the flower industry as well.
Eric Vereijken says "In our experience, it works quickly and easily for the most part. Not to mention, you can film with this Dino-Lite tool. It is useful for convincingly showing others what is going on."