‘Sport in the premier division’

5 Sep 2018

Paul van der Wilt, Manager Bulb production at Royal Van Zanten

Wouwse Plantage is located in the middle of Brabant, The Netherlands. Here you will find the lily bulb nursery of Royal Van Zanten. On the 85-hectare nursery there are about 70 different Van Zanten lily cultivars, of which 10% annually new inflows from breeding. The main goal of the nursery is to grow healthy planting material and scaling bulbs – for the propagation and for (contract) bulb growers – of an excellent quality. “To reach the finish line every year is like sport in the premier division”, says Paul van der Wilt, Manager Bulb production at Royal Van Zanten. “And so cool when you meet the expectation of the customer, with a small dedicated team”.

To lead. When Paul was approached nine years ago to lead the nursery, the first thing his colleagues asked him was: “Where are your boots?” “Where is your workwear?” He had to answer both questions with ‘no’. “Because this is not how I’m leading the nursery,” says Paul. “Having and keeping processes in order, working systematically and creating conditions so that everyone can do their job as good as possible. But also to share knowledge and bring it into the nursery, so we can make the best decisions for now and the future. This is how I lead the nursery “.

Pride. Royal van Zanten occupies an almost unique position within the lily trade. Because it has everything in house: breeding, own varieties, nurseries in the Northern and Southern hemisphere and trade (export). In other words: knowledge, ambition, market position and entrepreneurship. “This is also what you feel on the work floor. Everyone puts a lot of energy and passion into the company and feels proud and responsible. For the company, the product and of course the customer”, says Paul. But we must not forget the words: continuity and quality. This is the reason that Van Zanten in the Netherlands – in addition to its own nursery – also works with two contract growers, has a number of hectares of bulbs in France (Bordeaux region) and has its own nursery in New Zealand.

In 2016, a new processing warehouse with cold rooms was built in Wouwse Plantage. This was necessary to keep up with the growth, of more planting stock and more bulbs. In addition, this was also a great opportunity to make the processing of the planting material more efficient (read faster and better). This has improved the quality of the planting material.

The future at Van Zanten equals renewal. Having a clear vision, delivering quality, maintaining a good relationship with its customers and suppliers, but certainly also the environment. “For example, we are part of the sustainability project: Clean yard, clean ditch”, says Paul. This project aims to actively reduce the of crop protection. But also by thinking logically and adjusting processes, the company has taken steps to contribute to a better environment.

Lily bulbs will have to find solutions for fewer crop protection products in the near future. We will have to work together in order to achieve a greener and more sustainable crop. “The ideal picture is a healthy lily bulb cultivation with a considerably lower environmental impact. The first steps have been taken, but we will have to look further and experimentally discover new crop that bring the desired results “, Paul concludes.

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