The improved water permeability was a specific request from users. The fabric is also UV resistant, making it suitable for use anywhere in the world. The light reflectivity matches the growing seasons, reflecting the right amount of light in the summer and absorbing the right amount in the darker months. It also retains heat when necessary and doesn’t absorb heat at times when the plant doesn’t need it.
The ErfGoed Grey Cover was developed based on extensive customer feedback, with the manufacturer also making use of new insights and technologies from various suppliers and research institutions. The product is a seamless enhancement of the total concept of the Excellent cultivation floor – in other words, providing the plant with the right amount of water at the right time.
Stand number: 11.500
Grodan develops crop-specific product solutions to meet growers’ requirements. Trials have shown that yields can be increased by up to 5% with this new slab.
Grodan Supreme slab, which was specifically developed for the V cultivation system, is slightly narrower and higher (12x10 cm) than other slabs used in the cultivation of sweet peppers (15x7.5 cm).
New NG2.0 technology
Thanks in part to new NG2.0 technology, this slab offers some major advantages: fast, uniform initial saturation, more efficient use of the entire substrate volume and even better distribution of water and nutrients, especially at the top of the slab. The water content (WC) and EC can be more quickly and more accurately corrected. And all this is entirely in accordance with Precision Growing: maximum year-round performance through the efficient use of water, nutrients and energy. The plants form more healthy, fine roots in the upper part of the slab, ensuring more vigorous growth.
Stand number: 08.316
Substrate cultivation no longer qualifies as organic. This is the outcome of numerous trialogue meetings between the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament. Starting in November 2015 the European Council, Commission and the Parliament met in 18 trialogue meetings to negotiate the new regulation for organic production.
Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs Van Dam called the outcome a “heavily argued compromise, to which I can and will agree because it upholds several points that are of crucial importance to the Netherlands.”
Examples of the crucial points to which Van Dam refers are the gradual phasing out of the existing derogations (permission from the EU for deviations from the adopted European standards), maintaining the possibility of parallel production and inspection based on risk analysis. Additionally, a differentiated distribution between delegated acts, implementing acts and rules contained in the Council Regulation is included in the new Regulation. It does not, however, contain a threshold value for residues.
In principle, the definition of ‘organic plant production’ has remained unchanged: plants that derive their nutrients from the soil ecosystem. This means that crops grown on substrates may no longer be sold as ‘organic’. In the past, Denmark, Sweden and Finland were entitled to use alternative cultivation methods because climate conditions made it difficult to grow organic crops in the open field. Scandinavian growers, for example, grow their organic produce in soil kept in containers above ground level. This method will be phased out during a ten-year period as from the effective date of the Regulation.
Other rules in the USA
The wish expressed by Southern European countries for an exception to these rules was not granted, which means that they too will be expected to comply with the Regulation. In the report of the general meeting, Dutch politician De Groot from the party D66 referred to the innovative cultivation methods used in the Netherlands, where crops are grown on substrate or coir. On the US market for organic products, produce grown in this way is still classified as organic. This situation is related to an equivalent agreement between the EU and the USA. In this, both parties to the agreement recognise each other’s rules and strive for as much similarity as possible between them.
Point for discussion
In the USA, the question of whether produce grown on substrate can be sold as organic is also a point for discussion. Currently, this is not the case, but the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) announced several proposals this year for disqualifying produce grown by means of vertical and substrate cultivation as organic. Ricardo Crisantes, a farmer of organic produce for Wholesum Harvest and on the Board of the Coalition for Sustainable Organics (CSO), recently expressed his concern for this proposal to the American Senate. He believes that the NOSB is considering proposals that will impede organic substrate cultivation, despite the possibility of this being a key solution for satisfying the growing consumer demand for organic products.
The Swiss start-up Climeworks is developing a system that extracts CO2 out of the air for greenhouse horticulture purposes. The system will be tested during a three-year pilot and should be able to capture some 2 to 3 tons of CO2 on a daily basis. This will be piped to a nearby greenhouse to boost the growth of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes, according to New Scientist magazine.
The system, called Direct Air Capture (DAC), captures air in closed spaces, such as submarines and space capsules. The captured ambient air is pushed through a fibrous sponge-like filter material that has been impregnated with chemicals derived from ammonia. Once the filter is saturated, the gas will be released by warming it with the heat which is in this case generated by a nearby municipal waste incineration plant. The CO2 thus released is then piped to a 4-hectare greenhouse.
According to calculations made by the American Physical Society the cost of capturing CO2 on this scale would be 600 dollars a ton, says Climeworks COO Dominique Kronenberg. The Swiss start-up also expects to equal that and eventually get costs down well below that. At that price, taking C02 out of the air is more expensive than removing it from the flue gases of industrial facilities and power plants, where the gas is up to 300 times more concentrated.
Despite the high price, Kronenberg notes the many advantages to the DAC process. ‘The advantage of taking it out of the ambient air is that it can be done no matter where you are on the planet. We are not dependent on a source of CO2, so neither will we need to make high costs to transport the CO2 to the greenhouses.’ Climeworks will be using funding from the Swiss Federal Office of Energy to fine-tune the system. The objective of the three-year pilot period is to make the system run more cheaply and efficiently and, in doing so, enable the company to gain a solid foot on the market.