Sustainable Growing

Transforming the market: Insights from Thomas Peters - A Glimpse into Grodan's innovative strawberry cultivation approach

Emmanouela Alexopoulou
November 3, 2023

In the world of horticulture, thinking innovative is key to meet industry demands such as high yields and products of high quality, while maintaining sustainable practices.

The idea to start the journey of transforming the strawberry cultivation and propagation industry came because growers of many crops worldwide are under pressure from several sides regarding food production systems and the same applies for strawberry growers since most of them grow outdoors demanding high amounts of water and land. Through cutting-edge techniques and our passion to high quality, we decided to redefine how growers can cultivate strawberries. Thomas, Business Development manager at Grodan project leader for strawberries was asked by Larry Aylward from Meister Media Worldwide to give an interview for the Canadian growers and talk about our vision.  Before watching the interview we asked Thomas to explain us why is he so passionate about strawberries and he travels around the word to communicate with strawberry growers and generate new knowledge. While visiting a strawberry greenhouse with Thomas, we asked him to explain about the challenges faced by traditional growers, what are the differences between the traditional and the Grodan way of growing and the driving force behind Grodan's decision to focus on strawberries.

Thomas, what are the differences in strawberry cultivation between the current and Grodan's innovative approach?

Currently strawberry cultivation relies on traditional soil-based methods outdoors. However, this often leads to inconsistent yields and susceptibility to diseases. Our approach leverages precision horticulture knowledge we have with vegetables and other innovations to transform the market. This approach allows for precise control over important factors such as water, nutrients, and root development. The result? Consistently high-quality strawberries that surpass the limitations of traditional cultivation.

What are the primary challenges that growers face in the modern horticulture landscape, and how does Grodan's method address these issues?

Currently growers face a series of challenges in their cultivations such as water usage (and its recirculation), clean and fresh fruits year-round and crops free of diseases coming from open fields such as phytophora. Growers now need ‘re-assurance’ on a new growing methodology and knowledge how to cultivate strawberries in a different growing media such as stone wool. Strawberry growers need more help, service and knowledge on high tech growth since it is not a copy/paste of way of working outside (e.g. coco). Growing strawberries in a controlled environment in stone wool minimises resource usage, reduces disease risks and bring new opportunities for the growers. Growing ever-beares year-round, increases growers’ growing efficiency and their yields, ensuring that growers can meet the demands of a dynamic market.

Finally, Thomas what inspired Grodan to focus on strawberry cultivation, and how does this decision contribute to the advancement of sustainable and high-quality produce?

The decision to focus on the strawberry cultivation was driven by a combination of factors. We recognized the emergence of new challenges and opportunities in the sector, particularly in cultivating high-value crops. By focusing and investing our resources on strawberries, we want to position ourselves at the forefront of this shift. Through our expertise and collaboration with research and industry partners, we do not only want to learn how to grow strawberries; we want to advance the boundaries of what people think it is possible. We want to add value through our knowledge, drive innovation and contribute to a more sustainable and efficient strawberry production.

To learn more about this ground-breaking approach, you can watch Thomas interview below.


Whitepaper: Higher value is here

A recent trial by Grodan has demonstrated that strawberries can be propagated and cultivated on a stone wool substrate while maintaining high quality and attractive fruit size. Additionally, the yields and Brix values were higher than with traditional methods. “Our trial has shown that we have enough knowledge to grow good strawberry plants on stone wool. Everything is ready for upscaling,” says Johanna Bac-Molenaar from WUR.

Food Forward: The promising future of strawberry cultivation

In this Food Forward, we discuss the possibilities and challenges of growing strawberries in the greenhouse with three experts from the sector: Dieter Baets, Data Analyst and researcher Strawberries at Proefcentrum Hoogstraten, Ronald de Meester, Operational Director at Genson, and Hans Baekelmans, Crop Consultant at Grodan. They give updates on the latest trends and developments in greenhouse strawberry cultivation, and share their predictions for future-proof, efficient strawberry cultivation.