15 April 2021
Why does the horticultural sector have such an extensive focus on new technology, automation and natural crop protection products? In this article, we will explain what is going on in the horticultural sector, and how this affects day-to-day affairs of the various growers. Hortus Supplies International serves growers worldwide. The company therefore not only focuses on the Netherlands and Canada, but also on countries in Africa, such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.
Below, we have listed the most important trends and developments for our customers – growers from all over the world who are active in vegetable growing and floriculture:
The horticultural sector is subject to major changes, but each area has its own challenges. Certain countries or regions aim to become (more) self-sufficient, and try to achieve this with large-scale programmes. For example, countries in the Middle East have been working on an independent food supply for years, and China is committed to adding 500 hectares of vegetable growing every year. Political and economic considerations are also factors here: imports of fresh products can be expensive, or trade interests may complicate this. However, everyone has the same challenge: feeding a growing population.
In floriculture too, each area has its own approach. Rose growers in Ethiopia, for example, have set up their nurseries completely differently from a Dutch rose grower. In Ethiopia, 7,000 people work daily in a 450-hectare greenhouse, while we have to make do with a fraction of this manpower in the Netherlands. Ethiopian growers also grow in the ground, and they only require limited high-end technology to achieve a good harvest. Nevertheless, it is evident that increasingly strict quality requirements also force Ethiopian growers to innovate and apply modern technology.
A good example is a new method to increase the yield of a rose nursery by means of Supramino. This enables us to achieve a 6-8% higher yield per square metre without additional labour, with very limited costs. We are currently applying this agent with growers all over the world. Do you wish to know more?
Supramino is a fluid based on amino acids of enzymatic hydrolysis for application via the leaf. Supramino is a natural product.
The Netherlands is a leading country in the field of horticulture, and we see that Dutch methods and technologies are spreading across the world – first and foremost to Canada, a country that is perhaps just as advanced in the field of horticulture as the Netherlands. In Canada, too, efficiency and quality are central. Technologies from countries such as the Netherlands and Canada are being introduced ever so gradually in other regions, as efficiency and quality are also becoming more important there, and regulations are being tightened.
Its many years of experience in horticulture have given HSI a unique view of the position of growers in various countries. We are able to adapt our support and advice to the grower’s market situation. This means that a grower in Ethiopia will receive different advice than a grower in Canada. And if customers want to take the next step? Then we have plenty of examples from high-tech growers in terms of how to achieve the maximum yield from your growing area.
Food safety is becoming increasingly important. Consumers are becoming more aware of the composition of their food and are asking questions about its origin and production methods. The market follows suit: major supermarket chains, for example, are becoming stricter when it comes to the amount of residue that may be left on vegetables, for example. This means that growers will also have to implement improvements in less developed countries. For example, by exchanging chemical pest control for biological control methods. This requires different crop protection agents as well as a different approach – as correction or thinking ahead is paramount now, rather than ‘just spraying the pests dead’.
This means that we also adopt a different approach, viewed from a broader perspective as a market. Instead of fighting a pest, we are now increasingly focused on making the crop stronger and better. This serves to ensure that the vegetables are less susceptible to diseases and taste better. And consumers are fortunately willing to pay a little more for this.
Horticulture is learning to cope with pests and diseases
Making the crop stronger and better is becoming increasingly important as we continue to breed and improve. Nico van der Spek puts it as follows:
“The desire for optimisation has the side effect that new diseases emerge. As a grower, you are always balancing on the edge, and the flu is an accident waiting to happen – similar to the situation of top-class athletes. We therefore advise our customers to also look at ways to strengthen their crops, to ensure that they become more resilient. Growers should pay close attention to nutrition and the crop protection agents that they use and to what they do to the crop. For example, there is still a great deal to be achieved in the field of trace elements and vitamins.”
The ToBRFV (Tomato brown rugose fruit virus) represents a major challenge to tomato and bell pepper growers. It is a highly contagious virus that is closely related to the TMV (Tobacco Mosaic Virus) and the ToMV (Tomato Mosaic Virus) and cannot be effectively treated as yet. A grower with this virus must clear their crop if the problems become too serious to overcome. This results in a considerable loss of profits.
The emergence of this virus has urged growers to adopt alternative hygiene protocols. For example, hygiene stations have been introduced in many greenhouses. Anyone entering the premises should first disinfect their hands and feet. In the strictest cases, even staff will have to walk through these stations before entering the greenhouse. While people would previously walk through the greenhouse without protective equipment, it is nowadays normal for employees to enter the greenhouse with a disposable coverall, a hair / beard net, gloves and/or a mask. The growers are terrified that the virus will manifest in their greenhouse. Proper levels of hygiene will prevent the virus from spreading in your greenhouse.
There are a number of agents that can be used against the virus, but they have not yet been approved by regulators. With a view to food safety, new crop protection products are extensively tested and monitored.
The customers of Hortus Supplies International focus entirely on hygiene and on strengthening their crops. By using natural agents, adjusted nutrition and the best additives, we ensure that the virus does not get a hold on cultivation, and that the harvest can continue as usual. Would you like to know what we can do for your nursery? Then please contact us.
Crop rotation is one of the most important times of the year for our customers and partners. Especially in these times, it is essential that growers enter this process with due attention and preparation. We wrote a lengthy article on crop rotation that enables you to be properly prepared before you start work.