We can’t deny that climate change is accelerating and during this summer its consequences are becoming very visible. An unprecedented drought has already been impacting big parts of Europe for months. In fact in The Netherlands we have not experienced a drought like this since 1976. The changing climate and its impact make us rethink our current methods of energy and water management. New EU guidelines for reducing the emission of nutrients and water use force us and other industries to work together, adopting different approaches to gas emission and water management.
The horticultural industry also has to find smart ways to deal with the current and future water shortages. Growers and scientists (and we) are already researching and experimenting with alternative water sources and reuse of water. The EU is even working on a way to make regulations on the reuse of waterflows easier. Right from the start, Grodan was deeply involved in the adoption of closed recirculation systems for water and nutrients as a solution. A few years ago, we launched the concept of precision growing which supports this trend. Precision growing in short: plants are provided with the exact amount of water and fertilizers they need – no more, no less – and any excess water and fertilizer can be efficiently collected and reused. Although less resources are needed, the crop yield per square meter increases. Doing more with less.
This year’s extreme drought makes precision growing more relevant. Scientific research by Wageningen University & Research confirms that it’s a very efficient and effective cultivation method, saving a considerable amount of water. Let me give an example. When focussing solely on wins in water management we have seen see that to grow 1 kilo of soil based tomatoes an average of 60 litres of water is needed. But it costs greenhouses using growing media without recycling methods 22 litres and greenhouses working with stone wool growing media and with recycling of water and fertilizer even less, 15 litres. It is estimated that in 2017 Grodan’s products sold saved 90 million liters water, approximately savings of 53%. This is the equivalent to the drinking water needed to sustain 85.000 people for a year. Please read our 2017 sustainability report if you are interested to read more about the impact of precision growing.
In my opinion, precision growing is an interesting concept to help us all face our current and future challenges in water management. But we at Grodan are also very aware that we not there yet. We need to keep rethinking even better ways to cultivate crops in a sustainable way. We need to work together. Growers, substrate manufacturers, retailers, scientists to name a few. Grodan is always looking for smarter ways to sharpen our thinking about sustainable growing methods. In fact, it’s a natural part of Grodans’ DNA. This summers’ drought and the effects of climate change we are facing motivates us even more to rethink the best ways to cultivate efficiently and to focus on saving even more water. Let’s start the conversation on newer, innovative techniques in water management.