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Qualitree: Quality plant program specialists

Agriculture is the largest sector in Canada with a strong focus on horticulture. To get an impression of Dutch agricultural innovations in British Columbia, the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Vancouver and the Agricultural Team of the Dutch Embassy spoke with several entrepreneurs.

In this 10-part blog series we will be highlighting one advanced innovative agtech company in B.C. every week, focussing on its strong connections to the Netherlands.

Part 5 (5/10): Qualitree

“Access to both skilled and unskilled labour in the horticultural and agricultural sector in North America is the number one limiting factor to growth”, states Tony Van Oort Co-Founder and Sales Director at plant propagation specialist nursery Qualitree. While this is concerning for the industry, Van Oort believes that green automation can establish a substantial shift towards decreasing this labour shortage issue.

Portrait of Tony van Oort
©Qualitree

From the ground up

Founded in 1994 by two ambitious horticulture university graduates, Qualitree is set to become the most automated greenhouse nursery facility in North America. To meet this goal within five years, the company is building new greenhouses from scratch on their 100-acre farm in Chilliwack, BC. “We are building from the ground up because we want to do it right. It’s nearly impossible to implement modern technologies in an older greenhouse that was built for humans instead of for robots and machines”, explains Van Oort.

Sustainable base for growing

With roots in The Netherlands, Qualitree is collaborating with a number of Dutch companies to help them carry out their vision. Van Oort: “The hightech cultivation floors from the Dutch firm Erfgoed have been installed as the foundation of our new greenhouses.” These floors will not only increase yield and production, they are also the most sustainable base for growing; their technology reuses water and fertilizer. As a member of MPS Sustainable Quality, Qualitree recently received their certification inthe highest sustainability classification for horticulture.

“The next generation is our future”, says Van Oort, “and right now we’re building a company that millennials and next generations will want to work for. We will be a sustainable, automated nursery with a very low carbon footprint. This is the future of agriculture.”

Link with the Netherlands

  • Dutch Heritage
    The entire ownership and several key staff members are first, second and third generation Canadians from Dutch immigrants.
  • Dutch Technology
    Much of the technology used at Qualitree comes from the Netherlands. Examples include automation equipment, boilers to heat the greenhouses, the irrigation water management system, grow floors and a custom build ERP system. Qualitree closely resembles a Dutch-style nursery, with concrete driveways, rail systems for transportation and computer-controlled
    irrigation and climate control systems.
  • Dutch Model of Specialization
    Qualitree uses a model concentrating on volume and quality, inspired by friends and consultants in the Dutch industry. Whether it be other growers, suppliers of equipment, hard goods or their close ties with their consultants, Qualitree wouldn’t be who they are as a company without close ties to the Netherlands!

More on Dutch-Canadian collaboration in B.C.?

In the brochure that you can download below, you will find a number of examples of innovative companies in British Columbia, with strong connections to the Netherlands. We hope to see many more of these strong collaborations and are keen to support more innovators.

If you are interested to learn more, please connect with the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Vancouver at van-ez@minbuza.nl or contact the Economic Affairs teams in Ottawa and Toronto.