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BEST OF 2022 – In eight years, Ranjit Singh has become one of New Zealand’s largest telegraph cucumber growers
This proves that technology is a focus for continued profitability
Ranjit Singh, owner of Bmak Evergreen, began growing cucumbers in a small 1500m2 greenhouse that he leased in 2016. Ranjit now owns his own property with 4000m2 of greenhouses and leases a further 21,000m2 including a brand-new high-tech Apex greenhouse situated at the top of the Bombay Hills in South Auckland. At twenty-six years old, Ranjit has already achieved a great deal. He has worked tirelessly over the past six years to build his business that now employs twenty-five staff increasing to thirty in the warmer months.
This achievement is even more remarkable as Ranjit only immigrated to New Zealand in 2014 when he began working at a kiwifruit orchard in Tauranga, before being introduced to greenhouse growing. He quickly identified an opportunity to establish his own business and so begin his growing journey.
The ability to learn quickly and implement good growing practice has been key to the growth of the business. Ranjit also identified that new technology and labour-saving techniques were required to maintain his business and profitability long term. The large issues currently facing the business are: labour, energy and fertiliser costs. It may sound like a broken record but these are very difficult times for our industry and many others. Ranjit has identified the business needs to continually adapt to improve efficiencies.
To save on labour, Ranjit has been involved with developing a locally built crop removal machine that drastically reduces labour hours. He has also invested in a new cucumber wrapping machine that doubles his output. There is also some clever, yet basic equipment, such as the easy pallet stackers to reduce unnecessary lifting and shifting.
Easy stacking video above
The business has four Telegraph Cucumber wrapping machines including two new machines that have doubled output.
Insects such as whitefly and thrips are a constant battle for the business, and like many other growers he is interested in new methods to reduce the requirement for chemical interventions. The business invested in Ftek automatic spraying machines which are important for controlling insects. These machines minimize the labour requirement and eliminate the need for himself or staff to manually spray. Ranjit would like the industry to continue to work on identifying new biological or beneficial insect solutions that are both sustainable and affordable.
Fusarium and Pythium are constant fungal threats. Ranjit is sterilising water and preventing excessive watering to reduce production losses. The business has inline monitoring of the water contents and electrical conductivity to make informed applications.
Over the last year alone, the business has endured increases in energy by more than 75%. The energy screens at the new property have drastically reduced the energy consumption compared to the older lease properties that do not have energy screens. Ranjit advises that “We have used at least 30-35% less energy at the new property that has a screen” and he strongly recommends that all new builds consider installing energy screens. At the property Ranjit owns he is planning to build a new plastic covered structure which will have screens installed. He advises that “It makes sense if you want to reduce your energy bill and the pay back is quick”
Ranjit is passionate about growing and has a very keen interest in new technology. Monitoring staff productivity by improving work conditions is also a vital consideration to improve the sustainability of the business.
The brand-new greenhouse is installed with screens from Svensson. They pack up so tightly you would hardly know they were there.
Cover image: Managing Director and head grower Ranjit Singh
Article written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic
All Article’s checked and edited by Marie Vogrincic
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