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20 June 2024

"Want to maximize revenue? You’ll need to focus on automation"


Arable farm Vogels is located in Firdgum, a mound village on the North Frisian Wadden coast. Together with fifteen other villages, the city of Franeker and fourteen hamlets, it is part of the municipality of Waadhoeke. The company, run by Leo Vogels, has existed for over a hundred years and focuses on the cultivation of potatoes, wheat, sugar beets, and onions. Following a vast fire in 2017, a new storage shed was built. From that moment on, the firm has focused on crate logistics, together with VHM.

The ambition

Managing Director Leo Vogels: “Of course, a fire of that size is going to have numerous consequences. Everything was rebuilt and in the process we focused on realising the highest degree of automation. This was possible because we did not need to take existing buildings and limitations into consideration. We run our company with an average of four FTEs. Thanks to the extensive automation, it’s easy to do. And of course, it's fantastic to see all those beautiful machines running here. VHM is, therefore, very well represented in the realisation of our ambitions."

The challenge

"There are still plenty of challenges. We see government policy, for example, as a challenge, as well as an opportunity. There are more and more regulations, energy need to be more sustainable, and people want more nature. For many companies, this results in lower yields and more expensive products. Fortunately, we are in a good position here, close to the Wadden Sea, in terms of soil and weather conditions. We have also invested heavily in machines and storage capacity. That's important because it's really hard to find enough people. I don't want to be dependent on workforce availability and I aim to avoid working in the evenings as much as possible. At the same time, I want to maximize yields. That means doing a lot in a short period of time, and that can only be achieved with many and large machines."

About Arable farm Vogels

The fourth generation of Vogels - Leo with his wife Willeke and two daughters - had only just moved onto the farm when disaster struck. In one night, a fire destroyed part of the house, the storage shed, machinery and a complete 70-hectare yield. Rebuilding was done in style. A modern, architecturally designed storage shed offers space for 4,500 crates on air. 1,500 boxes can be supported with a refrigeration system running on the natural refrigerant CO2. Onions have also been stored in crates since 2017. Two cells have been created to store the 1,000 crates. These cells have enhanced ventilation capacity and adapted hatch dimensions. In addition to the potato and onion cells, a work cell has been created.


The solution

"The solution for our way of working lies in smart box logistics using VHM's machines. We have been working with a TwinFilr for years. This year we also bought a new Bijlsma line machine and invested in Gejo optical sorting. We do this in combination with an automatic box filler and box loader from VHM, which means that far fewer actions and forklift movements are required. In other words, maximum automation, so that we can achieve the greatest possible result with the right people."

"VHM's machines are simple, solid and innovative. In addition, they also have an appealing design. That’s really important, too. I am also pleased with the collaboration with VHM. A great company with a great team. They really think along with us about the optimisation of our processes, and they are open-minded. There’s a great deal of mutual respect."

  • Potato-harvest-season.
  • Akkersbouwbedrijf-Vogels.
  • Potato-loading-transport.
  • Seed-potato-storage.
  • Full-automatic-boxfiller-Vogels.
  • Seed-potato-boxfiller.
  • Seed-potato-harvest-Dewulf.
  • Box-filling-seed-potatoes.

"I'm curious about what the future will bring. We’re undertaking all kinds of activities in the field of sustainability. For example, we have solar panels, a windmill and crop storage which uses less energy than ever before. Performance is high, thanks to the many machines. In addition, the margin of error is low, and maintenance is nil. I'm very satisfied. Organic growth is fine with me, but I really don't need to double in size anymore."


"VHM machines do what they promise, and they're beautifully designed."

Leo Vogels, owner Arable farm Vogels



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