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Mike Knowles

BY MIKE KNOWLES

@mikefruitnet

Precision farming at heart of Munckhof deal

Takeover of 134 year-old, family-run machinery specialist opens door to development of new technology in new markets

Precision farming at heart of Munckhof deal

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One of Europe’s oldest suppliers of machinery used in fruit production, the Dutch firm Munckhof Machinefabriek, has been purchased by business partners Henri Michiels and Han Smits from its current owners Thijs and Peter van den Munckhof.

The group, which has been family-run for its entire 134-year history, is one of the world’s leading companies in the development of harvesting techniques, spraying equipment and box fillers, mainly for the production of apples, pears, cherries, berries and olives.

According to a statement announcing the deal, the group will continue under the name Munckhof Fruit Tech Innovators and is poised for growth in new markets following the takeover.

Munckhof Machinefabriek was founded in 1884 by local blacksmith Smitten Ties, and has been in the Van den Munckhof family ever since.

With 40 employees and a turnover of €6m euros, it now finds itself in the hands of Michiels and Smits: the former worked as technical commercial director at Dutch company Dinnissen Process Technology, while Smits was formerly international business development manager at Swiss company Glencore Grain.

According to the statement, their ambition with Munckhof Fruit Tech Innovators is to develop further high-tech solutions for precision farming, helping fruit growers to improve yields and quality by reducing the need for labour, fertilisers, energy and plant protection products.

“The use of even smarter sensors, GPS techniques, internet links and the automatic recording and use of big data will play an increasingly important role,” it stated. “Forward-looking growers can then measure the exact growth, yield and development of disease for each tree separately and then intervene quickly and only where necessary.”

The buyers also said they believed new techniques would play a role in the more accurate spraying of fertilisers and crop protection agents. “This will help prevent waste of resources and environmental pollution.”

The takeover is not expected to change much as far as employees and customers are concerned. “They can continue to rely on the same products and service they are accustomed to from Munckhof,” the statement concluded.

Although they plan to retire “gradually”, Thijs and Peter van den Munckhof are expected to remain involved with the company in some capacity.

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