All we ever think about 

is the

 future

GROWING RESILIENT PLANTS IN DURABLE WAYS

What developments do the researchers expect in the foreseeable future? “One of the things I see happening, is precision nutrition,” explains Wim. What does that mean? Arca tells us: “Rather than providing every plant with the same nutrition and watering plan, regardless of their individual needs, we expect that single nutrient supplements will become the norm. So that the grower can mix them up accordingly.” When it comes to water use, the two researchers expect primarily rainwater and additionally water from reusable sources, treated and desalinated waste water, to be used more widely (rather than desalinated well water), in combination with a supply of nutrients.

“As certain nutrients, such as phosphate and potassium, are non-renewable, they will become scarce. Moving towards a recycling community, rather than a consumption economy, will solve the shortage. Think about mining minerals from sewage water, for instance. Or re-using agriculture’s excess nitrogen from manure in horticulture.”

And then there is technology! Fully automated measuring with sensors and taking samples with robots, using artificial intelligence to grow plants remotely, computer-generated nutrition plans, robots doing the dirty work and drones and cameras supervising the greenhouse independently, are all becoming a reality. 

DRONES & DATA

GROWING

THE FUTURE,

TODAY

Growing plants in a future-proof, sustainable way is not as hard as it may seem. Arca and Wim provide a few practical tips, which growers can already apply today!

Use controlled release fertilizers (i.e. Osmocote Exact) in combination with fertigation. This enables you to vary the administration of nutrients between various types of plant, according to their needs, but still water them all at the same time. Research in pot orchid cultivation showed that applying controlled release fertilizers to the growing medium and reusing drain water (recirculation) can help to significantly lower EC and total amount of nitrogen emissions.

1

Measuring plant growth, plant health, and the circumstances in which the plant is growing, is the start of individual plant nutrition plans. Once you know how plants’ needs differ, you can adjust the nutrition and watering plan accordingly. Giving you higher yields, more efficient nutrition and healthier plants.

2

Strive for the ideal combination of reducing the environmental footprint of horticulture, with increasing yields. Take all of the circumstances and energy-consuming elements into account, and adjust them accordingly. Look at the greenhouse itself, ventilation, screens, heating, watering and light. All of these are individual opportunities to further improve! This is called ‘The New Growing’.

3

Don’t leave it all up to robots and data! Growing plants successfully still relies on people’s talents. Use all of your knowledge and experience about plant physiology and physics. Think about how plants grow, and how you can help them, by creating the right circumstances and nutrition plans.

4

Meet Arca Kromwijk and Wim Voogt, scientific researchers at Wageningen University & Research specialising in Greenhouse Horticulture. 

They are experts when it comes to growing plants, and they are always one step ahead. All of their research, in varying fields of expertise, is focused on discovering new ways and improving conventional ways of growing plants, protecting them from pests, while reducing the environmental impact at the same time. We talked to them about greenhouse horticulture today and in the (near) future.

 

SCROLL DOWN

Arca adds: “Fertilizers can play a role here, even though it cannot make miracles happen, as some people seem to think. However, there is a number of nutrients that we are studying that appear to have positive effects. One example is silicon, which slows down the development of mildew in cucumber, rose and strawberry plants. Another contender is calcium. As we have seen that a calcium deficiency in plant cells can make them more susceptible to Botrytis, adding extra calcium to the nutrition plan may help. Although it cannot prevent the disease completely.”

Other ways of growing more resilient plants include managing humidity in the greenhouse, since fungi in particular thrive in hot and humid conditions. Or introducing positive bacteria or biological enemies into the growing system. At Wageningen University & Research they are also researching the influence of microbial and fungal soil life on plant resilience. The hypothesis that introducing a well-balanced supply of nutrients into the soil, for instance by applying controlled-release fertilizer instead of traditional fertilizers, may improve soil life variety, which in turn may aid plant health, will be tested in 2020.

GREENHOUSE

2030

At the Wageningen University & Research location in Bleiswijk, the Netherlands, pink light radiates from one of the greenhouses, “Welcome to the greenhouse of 2030!” 

As regulations regarding the use of chemical crop protection products are becoming stricter and society is demanding carbon footprint reduction by the horticulture industry, prevention is key. Rather than fighting plant disease or pests with chemicals or other, energy-consuming methods, the researchers are betting on prevention of pests altogether. “Two topics are of importance when studying resilience: the plant and its environment. Stronger plants are less prone to pests, fungi and disease, and the plant environment has a strong influence on how healthy the plant is,” explains Wim. 

RESILIENT PLANTS

All we ever think about 

IS THE

 future

GROWING RESILIENT PLANTS IN DURABLE WAYS

Meet Arca Kromwijk and Wim Voogt, scientific researchers at Wageningen University & Research specialising in Greenhouse Horticulture. 

They are experts when it comes to growing plants, and they are always one step ahead. All of their research, in varying fields of expertise, is focused on discovering new ways and improving conventional ways of growing plants, protecting them from pests, while reducing the environmental impact at the same time. We talked to them about greenhouse horticulture today and in the (near) future.

 

What developments do the researchers expect in the foreseeable future? “One of the things I see happening, is precision nutrition,” explains Wim. What does that mean? Arca tells us: “Rather than providing every plant with the same nutrition and watering plan, regardless of their individual needs, we expect that single nutrient supplements will become the norm. So that the grower can mix them up accordingly.” When it comes to water use, the two researchers expect primarily rainwater and additionally water from reusable sources, treated and desalinated waste water, to be used more widely (rather than desalinated well water), in combination with a supply of nutrients.

“As certain nutrients, such as phosphate and potassium, are non-renewable, they will become scarce. Moving towards a recycling community, rather than a consumption economy, will solve the shortage. Think about mining minerals from sewage water, for instance. Or re-using agriculture’s excess nitrogen from manure in horticulture.”

And then there is technology! Fully automated measuring with sensors and taking samples with robots, using artificial intelligence to grow plants remotely, computer-generated nutrition plans, robots doing the dirty work and drones and cameras supervising the greenhouse independently, are all becoming a reality. 

DRONES & DATA

As regulations regarding the use of chemical crop protection products are becoming stricter and society is demanding carbon footprint reduction by the horticulture industry, prevention is key. Rather than fighting plant disease or pests with chemicals or other, energy-consuming methods, the researchers are betting on prevention of pests altogether. “Two topics are of importance when studying resilience: the plant and its environment. Stronger plants are less prone to pests, fungi and disease, and the plant environment has a strong influence on how healthy the plant is,” explains Wim. 

RESILIENT PLANTS

Arca adds: “Fertilizers can play a role here, even though it cannot make miracles happen, as some people seem to think. However, there is a number of nutrients that we are studying that appear to have positive effects. One example is silicon, which slows down the development of mildew in cucumber, rose and strawberry plants. Another contender is calcium. As we have seen that a calcium deficiency in plant cells can make them more susceptible to Botrytis, adding extra calcium to the nutrition plan may help. Although it cannot prevent the disease completely.”

Other ways of growing more resilient plants include managing humidity in the greenhouse, since fungi in particular thrive in hot and humid conditions. Or introducing positive bacteria or biological enemies into the growing system. At Wageningen University & Research they are also researching the influence of microbial and fungal soil life on plant resilience. The hypothesis that introducing a well-balanced supply of nutrients into the soil, for instance by applying controlled-release fertilizer instead of traditional fertilizers, may improve soil life variety, which in turn may aid plant health, will be tested in 2020.

GREENHOUSE

2030

At the Wageningen University & Research location in Bleiswijk, the Netherlands, pink light radiates from one of the greenhouses, “Welcome to the greenhouse of 2030!” 

Wim smiles. “Here, we are researching various innovations for growing plants in greenhouses, to be free of emissions, fossil fuel and chemical crop control. For example, we are using red/blue LED light, which radiates less warmth compared to traditional HPS lights. Therefore it is more energy-efficient to use, and it reduces the need to cool the climate down to arrive at ideal growing temperatures. Another experiment uses a completely new approach to growing Freesia above the floor in a sand bed.”

Other measures include re-using excess heat, multiple screens for optimal insulation, warmth pumps and a larger warming surface. In some research areas, a so-called standing army has been introduced into the greenhouse. These natural enemies are ready to attack, as soon as a certain pest surfaces. “In this futuristic greenhouse, anything goes!”

Greenhouse 2030 is a project financed by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature & Food Quality and the program ‘Kas als energiebron’ (‘Greenhouse as a source of energy’)

GROWING

THE FUTURE,

TODAY

Growing plants in a future-proof, sustainable way is not as hard as it may seem. Arca and Wim provide a few practical tips, which growers can already apply today!

Use controlled release fertilizers (i.e. Osmocote Exact) in combination with fertigation. This enables you to vary the administration of nutrients between various types of plant, according to their needs, but still water them all at the same time. Research in pot orchid cultivation showed that applying controlled release fertilizers to the growing medium and reusing drain water (recirculation) can help to significantly lower EC and total amount of nitrogen emissions.

1

Measuring plant growth, plant health, and the circumstances in which the plant is growing, is the start of individual plant nutrition plans. Once you know how plants’ needs differ, you can adjust the nutrition and watering plan accordingly. Giving you higher yields, more efficient nutrition and healthier plants.

2

Strive for the ideal combination of reducing the environmental footprint of horticulture, with increasing yields. Take all of the circumstances and energy-consuming elements into account, and adjust them accordingly. Look at the greenhouse itself, ventilation, screens, heating, watering and light. All of these are individual opportunities to further improve! This is called ‘The New Growing’.

3

Don’t leave it all up to robots and data! Growing plants successfully still relies on people’s talents. Use all of your knowledge and experience about plant physiology and physics. Think about how plants grow, and how you can help them, by creating the right circumstances and nutrition plans.

4

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