Cultivation of Chinese cabbage and herbs in water according to practice

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Project period 1 february 2017 - 31 december 2019

Vertify is working with Tuinderij Bevelander on the project "Growing Chinese cabbage and fine herbs in water to practice". For growers of leafy vegetables and herbs, including Tuinderij Bevelander, higher market demands with regard to quality, quantity and reliability of production are a major challenge. Supermarkets, vegetable cutting companies, service providers and other sales organizations are increasingly looking for suppliers who can meet higher delivery conditions in the field of sustainability (people, planet and profit). The requirements that buyers place on the product or the production method are becoming increasingly strict.

Tuinderij Bevelander is a growing company from Achthuizen (Goeree Overflakkee) that specializes in growing Chinese cabbage and fine herbs on about 100 hectares of agricultural land. Chinese cabbage and fine herbs are strongly hindered in their growth by weeds, insects and (soil) fungi. This makes it necessary to use chemical crop protection products. In addition, fertilizers are necessary for a good quality product. The market situation is forcing horticultural companies to produce on a large scale (lowering the cost price) and this means intensive land use, also in the Achthuizen region. As a result, cultivation soils become impoverished and the emission of fertilizers and crop protection products is undesirably high and the current method of cultivation to make production more sustainable is limited. The traditional cultivation method has reached its limits in this regard.


teelt op water2

Through this project, investments are made in the development, testing and demonstration of a cultivation system in which fine herbs and Chinese cabbage are grown on water. The cultivation system consists of 1 hectare with nine basins with pond liner filled with a 30 centimeter deep nutrient solution. Floats are placed on top of the nutrient solution, in which the young plants are placed, which then develop a root system in the nutrient solution with their roots hanging in the water. Research within the comprehensive project “Cultivate the Soil” by Vertify and Wageningen UR / PPO has shown that many herbs and cabbage varieties thrive in water culture. Nevertheless, it is an investment in a new cultivation technique with which little experience has been gained on a practical scale. It concerns a cultivation system with a high degree of innovation. The aim of the project is to make a significant leap in sustainability in the cultivation of Chinese cabbage and fine herbs, so that future market requirements and regulations can be met.

This provides the following benefits:

  • Growing without residues
  • Low-emission cultivation
  • Better control and monitoring of cultivation
  • More efficient use of water and nutrients
  • Less space required, no crop rotation of cultivation soils
  • Increased harvest percentage, no paths or field edges
  • Extensive possibility of automation
  • Less disease and pest problems (eg snails and weeds)
  • More harvest and delivery security
  • Clean product
  • New market concepts possible
  • Improvement of working conditions

These aspects result in the possibility of an added value strategy and indirectly new market concepts and revenue models instead of a cost reduction strategy. In addition, production risks such as the weather and pests and diseases can be managed much better, which will strengthen the position of the primary horticulturist in the trading chain. The main advantage is that there is no emission of nitrate, phosphate and crop protection products to the soil and surface water.

The project can be seen as a testing ground for cultivation on water in the Province of South Holland. The investment can serve as an example for other growers. This gives shape to the desired change approach of the Province of South Holland. Not for nothing in the subtitle of this application "Province of South Holland as an example for sustainable, strong and future-proof cultivation of vegetables". The project is ambitious and can be seen as a major leap in sustainability that will be made in a short period of time.

More information?

For more informatie you can contact Isabel Conijn, Project Leader Outdoor Vegetables.