27 Jan. 2021


Two leading producers in the substrate industry announce that they will join forces. The Dutch substrate producer and supplier Legro, has purchased 50% shares in Botanicoir, the British/Sri Lankan coir manufacturer.

This partnership will enable Botanicoir to make the necessary investments to cater to the increasing global demand for compressed coir products and to accelerate new product development. Both companies have a reputation for innovation in the substrate industry and combining their expertise will further strengthen that position.

Botanicoir Managing Director, Kalum Balasuriya, says, “We feel that Legro is a very good match for us in terms of company culture. Trust, transparency, quality and customer focus are at the heart of everything we do, and Legro shares these same values.”

He goes on to explain, “Both companies will continue to operate independently and there will be no change to the way we do business. It is more of a long-term decision, looking towards the future to meet customer needs and aspirations of growth and innovation. Between the two companies we have the experience and the means to take the next step forwards in leading the substrate industry in technological advances and product R&D.”

“The market is changing as growers deal with more and more challenges,” says Legro’s Commercial Director, Ted Buis, “We need to step up and do our part to face these challenges in any way we can. By taking this important step together, both Botanicoir and Legro can widen their product portfolio and market presence to support our customers”.

Both Botanicoir and Legro continue to be family run businesses and both pride themselves on offering exceptional quality products and service to a global customer base. The synergy is strong between the two companies and comes with an ethos that runs deep throughout both organisations.

About Botanicoir
Botanicoir is a family company, still headed up by its founders, Kalum and Samantha Balasuriya. With their sales and marketing office in the UK and production facilities in Sri Lanka and India, they have full control of the production process to guarantee quality supply to the global market. Botanicoir has a dedicated team offering bespoke products to suit growers needs, primarily focused on compressed coir products for the commercial soft fruit and vegetable sectors. Their philosophy is simple: To provide products of the highest quality to customers and work hand in hand with them to innovate and grow together.

About Legro
With a history and experience of almost 100 years, Legro has grown to be one of the biggest substrate producers around the world. Founded in 1924 with the fourth generation currently at the helm. Together with 250 employees, divided over 9 countries, they team up and strive every day on producing the best, tailormade substrates and casing soils to serve their customers, all around the globe, in the best way possible. Quality is one of Legro’s core values. In order to meet their high standards they like to manage the entire process on their own and therefore own their own peat fields and transport company.

13 Nov. 2020


Legro Group B.V., one of the leading European producers of substrates and casing soils, has announced the takeover of Aurich-Wiesmoor-Torfvertriebs GmbH (AWT). With this takeover, Legro is strengthening its own position in terms of access to raw materials for the production of mushroom casing soil.

AWT has approximately 230 hectares of peat fields in northern Germany, with a licence for the next 20 years. With its dedicated and professional team of 18 employees, the company supplies the European horticultural sector with high-quality raw materials. AWT GmbH General Manager Frank Tamminga comments on the takeover: “In early 2019 we realised that it was essential for AWT to find a strategic partner for the future. The good experience we have with Legro and the fact that it is a family business with a long-term vision are crucial factors that fit in well with our culture and mentality. In taking this step, we have secured the future of our team by integrating it into a larger company that offers new opportunities.

Legro Group is a leading substrate producer specialising in mushroom casing soil, which is marketed through Legro Mushroom Casing Solutions B.V. Earlier this year it opened a new, state-of-the-art production facility in Cuijk, the Netherlands. To secure the availability and supply of raw materials, it saw opportunities in the takeover of AWT. Franc Swinkels, COO Legro Group B.V.:

”German black peat is an essential raw material for professional mushroom cultivation. The characteristic properties of this raw material are unique and form the basis for the production of high-quality casing soil. AWT has been a highly valued black peat supplier to us for many years. Their professional attitude and focus on quality are particularly important to us. With this takeover, we are securing the supply of high-quality raw materials for our production in the longer term.”

Over the past few months, Hortirent, AWT’s machinery hire division, has been spun off as an independent organisation. AWT’s peat and agricultural contracting division will continue to operate as an independent company within the Legro Group and will secure part of Legro’s raw material requirements for the production of casing soil.

27 Jul. 2020


Legro Mushroom Casing Solutions, formerly Topterra, has moved from Wanssum to Cuijk, in the port of Katwijk. And no, not by the sea but by the river Maas. Time for a chat with the owners of Legro Group, father and son Sjef and Franc Swinkels.

Legro Mushroom Casing Solutions B.V. is part of Legro Group B.V., an organisation with a history dating back to 1924. On 1 May, the company moved from its production site in Wanssum to Cuijk. Sjef Swinkels’ father started producing casing soil for mushroom cultivation in the early 1960s, under the name Gebroeders Swinkels. This casing soil was still produced with peat from the Peel. This continued until the mid-1970s, when peat extraction from this Dutch region stopped.

Nooyen casing soil
In 1976, the management of Legro came into the hands of Sjef Swinkels. Ready-made casing soil was not produced at that time, but raw materials for casing soil were still supplied to Belgian customers who made the end product themselves. Sjef Swinkels: “In 1978, Piet Nooyen of Nooyen Compost in Helenaveen asked if we wanted to take up the production of casing soil again. In this partnership, I then set up the company Nooyen Dekaarde together with Piet. This was all running smoothly. Unfortunately, Piet died due to a fatal accident. In the same period, we were growing quite out of our depth in Asten, where Nooyen Dekaarde was located, and with the takeover of Interterra in Wanssum, we decided to move the entire production branch of casing soil to Wanssum.”

The years around the turn of the century were a busy period for the Swinkels family. Sjef: “We were always growing, and because most of the raw materials came from Germany, something that is still the case as far as casing soil is concerned, we decided to have part of our packaged casing soil produced at Humuswerke Worpswede. We also took over the remaining shares of the Nooyen company, and at the same time we wanted more sales for the cutting market. The relatively small Brill casing soil, owned by Lam Janssen, was doing quite well there with a casing soil that included stone grindings. We acquired Brill, and because we fully owned Nooyen Dekaarde, we decided to change the name to Topterra Holland B.V.”
In 2005, German Humuswerke Worpswede was also incorporated, from where German customers were now supplied directly. In 2010, a new production hall was completed in Worpswede.

Wanssum was a good location for Topterra. Not too far from the customers, and on the river Maas, which meant raw materials could be delivered directly by ships. Swinkels: “We actually knew for 10 years that we would have to leave eventually. The province had big plans for the area, a ring road was being built around the village, which is now almost finished, and would shrink our already limited space even further. In the end, it was really struggling. For quite some time, we could no longer park our trucks in Wanssum; they were in Helmond. The logistics were a real challenge, I can tell you.” So the then Topterra had to look for a new location, and after looking at a number of options over the years, they ended up in Cuijk. Swinkels: “For us, it was especially important to find a location that had to meet a few conditions. The location in relation to our customers had to be good, but a large waterway, directly adjacent to the site, is of the utmost importance to us. We also want to produce only mushroom casing soil at this location, and not mix it with other Legro activities.

Cuijk already came into the picture of 2017 as a new location for Topterra, which changed its name from Topterra Holland B.V. to Legro Mushroom Casing Solutions in 2018. At the same time, the German branch Humuswerke Worpswede GmbH was renamed Legro Germany GmbH. “Legro, do you know what that means?” asks Swinkels, “Living soil. That’s how we see our product, of course, and in casing soil the mushrooms come to life. In terms of name, we like to stick to the origins of our company. It is a family business, but until 2018, in an export market that is important to us, Australia, we had a branch of Legro for the substrates and Topterra for the casing soil. Not exactly efficient. Franc pointed this out to me, we also wanted to join forces externally and, besides, it is clear for everyone to continue under one name. Legro makes substrates for soft fruit, tree cultivation, young plants and mushrooms.

This site, because it is meant for mushrooms only, often has different input streams than our other farms. The base for casing soil still comes from Germany, and we expect to continue there for at least another 10 years. The situation is different for other substrates; the lighter peat already comes mainly from the Baltic states. The horticultural branch is saying goodbye to German peat, but underneath there is still black peat for casing soil.

In Cuijk, on the current Legro site, there used to be a sawmill, which was dismantled due to business closure. The plot in Wanssum was 1.5 hectares, in Cuijk Legro now has access to 9 hectares. “Should we have to supply raw materials overseas, volumes will increase and so will the need for storage capacity,” says Swinkels. “We will now offer a broader pallet to mushroom growers, because we are much more flexible. Our production process an sich does not change, but we can make more different mixtures. We have more space covered here than our entire plot in Wanssum.”

Size matters
Indeed, on entering the truly enormous hall, which was first completely gutted and then rebuilt, one notices that all raw materials and mixtures are neatly arranged in large compartments. Trucks have room to unload and drive around. 1 conveyor belt comes directly from the adjacent port, and work is still in progress on a cross conveyor that can unload product from the ship directly into any chosen storage, without the intervention of a loading shovel. All storage is indoors. Swinkels: “This should result in an even more consistent product. We do two-thirds of our sales from here in bulk for the Western European market, and one-third packaged for global export. We assume that the demand for increasingly different casing soil, to facilitate a certain specialised crop, will increase, the way casing soil is made will change. We are ready for it!”

Article is from Mushroom Business July 2020.

16 Nov. 2019

New Legro casing soil

A new production site offers new product possibilities! In November, an article about our new casing soil appeared in Paddestoelen magazine.

Earlier this year, Legro Mushroom Casing Solutions in Cuijk opened a new production location for its casing soil. On a 9-hectare site, an impressive factory re-emerged (see also Mushrooms 3/2020). Product manager Ronald Vermunt: ”Unlike before, at our new location we can store all incoming raw materials directly indoors. As a result, these products are minimally affected by outside factors, allowing us to guarantee the quality of raw materials even better. A great added value for product consistency.”

Besides ensuring optimum product quality, the new location also provides opportunities for further production development. ”Within Legro, we continuously focus on delivering the best possible solution for our customer. At this new location, we can really live up to our name, Casing Solutions. This is how we work with our global customers to find the right solution for their crop. This does not always have to be casing soil immediately, we can also use our knowledge to make locally available raw materials applicable by adding one of our mix products. The arrival of our new location offers more opportunities as we literally have more space for this.”

New casing soil for manual harvesting
These developments have led to a new casing soil for manual harvesting in Legro’s portfolio. Vermunt explains: ”By applying new mixing techniques, we have developed a product that answers the specific customer demand in the picking segment, where, among other things, a coarse structure of the casing soil is very important. This enables the grower to keep a grip on the quantity and also the distribution of the mushrooms, which benefits harvesting performance and quality. This, combined with good water management and porosity of the product, makes this picking earth a unique product. The sector is evolving and wishes and requirements for our products are changing. With the help of our new location, we can think along with the customer in this.”

Article was published in Mushrooms Magazine November 2020