All You Need is Sunlight, Carbon Dioxide, and Water

Beverly Written by Beverly Leavitt September 9, 2021 Member Updates

A staff photo out front of "Vanden Bussche Irrigation" building.

You need three variables to grow a consistent crop: sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. 

You can’t control it all, but you can control water with intelligent irrigation systems. So when wholesalers demand perfect-looking tomatoes, zucchinis, potatoes, etc., farmers can deliver the closest possible thing. 

Aside from dealing in God-like manipulation of the elements needed for agriculture—Marc Vanden Bussche carries on a living legacy in Vanden Bussche Irrigation. 

We caught up with Marc to talk about the business, how it started and where it’s going. Immediately, he begins with a joke, “I’m the third generation to own the business, which statistically is the one to sink it.”

All joking aside, Marc is bound and bent to keep the business successful so his children, Gerad and Gillian, can be the fourth generation. Not to mention Gillian’s newest addition to the family, who is sure to be generation number five! 

Early Years 

The company started by growing tobacco in 1928 in Delhi, Ontario. Nearly 30 years later, Gerard and Roger (Marc’s grandfather and father) began Vanden Bussche Irrigation on the heels of a drought. 

Over the years, Roger introduced new kinds of technology to southern Ontario, including the Wade Rain Power-Roll and Rain Bird Agriculture Gun. As they imported new technology, they expanded to serve more of Ontario and the Maritimes—becoming Ontario’s largest irrigation dealer. 

Marc’s Stamp 

On top of acquiring other businesses and opening new locations, Marc took innovation in a new direction and purchased the Learning Centre. The 115-acre farm would act as a research and equipment demonstration site. 

Here, customers have the chance to see the equipment in operation. Employees have the opportunity to gain some training and test out the products they’re selling, and as Marc puts it, “if they break it, they learn how to fix it.”

Marc and his team—who are like family and have been working together for 20-40 years—will continue to look for ways to streamline the customer experience. 

“Clients are looking for new products and ways to manage their old systems better. In the past, you used to irrigate to the point where you couldn’t walk through the field anymore, it was so muddy, and that’s when you would shut the water off. You used to have to go out to the field to turn it off, and that could take a couple of hours a day. 

Now, we show them how to do it from their tablet, phone, computer, so they save time and energy in the process,” says Marc. 

“We’ve even added GPS to the motors so our customers can track stolen equipment.”

What’s Next?

“Digital did a lot for us,” shares Marc. Just before the pandemic started, Vanden Bussche Irrigation launched an app so that customers could log in, see inventory, apply discounts, and order online at any hour of the day. 

Using digital platforms to assist in their sales process, they’ll be redirecting their marketing budget to online efforts. The Learning Centre will act as a backdrop to educational videos—similar to demonstrations they would have made at trade shows or hosted in-person on-site. 

This new marketing method will allow them to reach their customers across Eastern Canada and Eastern Europe in diverse irrigation markets.