Great Northern – Conversion from tomatoes to strawberries with IIVO

NewsSuccess storyApril 26, 2022

Great Northern Hydroponics is a 70 acre greenhouse operation in Kingsville, Canada. They have been in business since 1998 and started with  a 50-acre traditional greenhouse facility. The company is known for its tomatoes; growing more than 10 varieties, from cocktail tomatoes to grapes to mini San Marzano’s.


To achieve perfect integration between horticulture and technology, Great Northern uses techniques that are environmentally sustainable and responsible, having the best quality tomatoes as a result. And that’s where our IIVO process computer with Data Driven Growing comes in.

What Plant Empowerment and the IIVO interface has accommodated for us is the desire from our organization to expand our footprint and not necessarily expand the decision making team.

About 3 years ago, the company decided to make the switch to our IIVO. This decision was made after an extensive data analysis had taken place, in which Hoogendoorn evaluated the light-use efficiency  of the greenhouse based on their former cultivation method. The conclusion of the analyses was, by implementing IIVO in combination with Data Driven Growing and the principles of Plant Empowerment, Great Northern could realize 5% more yield per m2. This meant an important increase in the Return of Investment (ROI) for the organization, so the decision was quickly made. Guido van het Hof, President and General Manager was pleased about how the transition took place from the old to the new system. “Planning, the manpower, the knowledge of and the background of the people that were doing the conversion. I was very pleased with that whole process.“

Great Northern - IIVO Case Video

Dean Bernardes, VP Operations, shares that the biggest impact they have noticed since the transition to IIVO is the increase in production. “We also see better quality fruits and we also see an improvement on shelf life.” In the end, the increase of yield turned out to be even greater, than had been estimated beforehand.


Guido and their team are that convinced, that the company decided to train all employees according to the principles of Plant Empowerment and to further implement Data Driven Growing. “What Plant Empowerment and the IIVO interface has accommodated for us is the desire from our organization to expand our footprint and not necessarily expand the decision making team.” The continuous flow of data collected during cultivation generates real-time insights into the conditions within the greenhouse and the health of the plants. Thanks to the powerful algorithms of the IIVO, the climate of the company is pro-actively controlled, just-in-time management is made possible and resource savings are realized. Herewith a significant saving occurs for Great Northern in the area of energy conservation. Especially in these times, this saving is essential.

Next to their star product, Great Northern had a desire to diversify their portfolio, where they made a commitment to convert 25 acres over to strawberries, adding another specialty to their growing portfolio. The company plans to accomplish a complete strawberry conversion by March 2023. This conversion will take place in the following phases: in May this year Great Northern will start converting 15 acres of tomatoes to strawberries. In December this year the remaining 25 acres of tomatoes will make place for strawberries.


“We have had this ambition already for several years to diversify our crop portfolio. And we expect a complete seamless transition from a tomato climate into a strawberry climate. Again, with the same platform and with the same Plant Empowerment principles.”


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