Propagators united at International Propagation Seminar of Grodan

More than 100 propagation companies were in the Netherlands this week. They were invited by Grodan - the company organized the International Propagation Seminar for the eighth time. The kick-off of the event took place with a number of presentations, showing how it pays off to grow based on measurements. 'Welcome to Number-land' was the theme of the event.

Picture of Arne van Aalst

Horticulture 4.0
Grodan celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and they're taking the opportunity to look ahead. Looking at the future, the ever-growing demand for fresh vegetables requires data-driven horticulture to be able to optimize production. And Grodan has a fitting motto for this: Precision Growing. In practice, it means doing more by using less. We're living in Industry 4.0, an age of networks, cyber systems and the Internet of Things. Vincent Deenen: "Horticulture 4.0 is a part of that. We stepped up to the plate by developing e-Gro. After all, we know that the more you know, the better you grow." e-Gro combines relevant data from several sources on one online software platform. The result: 24/7 a detailed overview of the situation in the greenhouse, providing more control and enabling informed decision-making.

Things are getting complicated
Things are getting complicated, according to Arne van Aalst of Koppert Biological Systems. There are more pests and diseases, with new ones appearing each year. We have a lot of solutions but, unfortunately, not all. Add to that the fact that fewer chemicals are allowed, which means innovation is needed. Arne: "We have to embrace the complications as an opportunity. It is the way it is. Where before growers acted curatively, it's necessary to be pro-active to empower plants and seedlings.” Trianum is a good example to do that. Trianum-G increases the resistance of plants against stress caused by diseases, sub-optimal feeding and watering regimes or climatic conditions. Trianum-G also helps to increases nutrient uptake. This can enhance the growth and development of roots and above-ground plant parts. Trianum grows faster on the surface of the root than other soil-borne fungi. Other fungi get no chance to establish themselves on the roots. Trianum takes away the source of nutrients that the pathogens need to feed on. They, therefore, have no chance to develop. Trianum grows around the mycelia of the pathogen. The cell walls break down and the pathogen dies. Trianum improves the root system through the formation of more root hairs, so that water and nutrients can be absorbed better. This leads to better yields of a stronger and more uniform crop. The difference is particularly notable when the plant is under stress and/or cultivated under less than optimum growing conditions.  

And talking about Number-land. Of course Arne van Aalst is proud of Natutec. This app provides a digital platform for the registration and analysis of not only pests and diseases, but also the biological control and chemical agents present in the greenhouse. The smartest thing about the app is the image recognition that has been built into the app enabling growers to collect data on location without having to physically count the pests or make notes behind a computer screen or laptop in the office.

Jack Mooney of Costa Group spoke about the importance of measuring: "Let’s make every graft count.” For more information about this speech, please take a look at this article.

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Ben Nikaj and Jasper Bouwman (Grodan)

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Eric Hegger, NovaCropSolutions

It’s all about balance
After the break, Eric Hegger continued the seminar. Eric Hegger is a consultant with NovaCropControl. NovaCropControl is a research and test center specialized in plant sap analysis. A plant sap analysis provides insight into the actual uptake of nutrients by the plant. This reveals important information about the plant‘s health status. An optimal and balanced uptake of nutrients has a positive effect on the plant‘s natural disease resistance and on the quality, firmness and shelf life of fruits. Eric: "It’s all about balance. All elements have to be in balance with each other. And if you know more about it, you, as grower and propagator, can manage the plant.”

Can we speed up classic breeding processes?
Mike Poodt is coordinator digital crop technology at Rijk Zwaan. Rijk Zwaan is a Dutch breeder. And of course, like every breeder, Rijk Zwaan also wants to speed up classic breeding processes. “That’s possible. We use drones in open field tests to analyze the results. And of course, you can use the same cameras at the spray booms. By using web interfaces we can share the drone data. This way, we can substitute human observations and be sure to make objective decisions.”

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Thomas Peters of Grodan talked about NG2.0 Technology. This technology enables propagators and growers to produce more while using less water, nutrients and space. It is used in the blocks, slabs and plugs of Grodan. Thomas advises to use GroSens to have 24/7, real-time insight in the water content (WC), the EC and the temperature of the rockwool substrate.

After the seminar, the group was invited for a nice evening program, and yesterday they visited Ter Laak Orchids and Plantenkwekerij Leo Ammerlaan.

The participants of the 8th International Propagation Seminar can look back on an educational network event.

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