State-of-the-art knowledge and innovation
Sustainability, health and innovation
In Westland, growers, knowledge institutes, plant breeders, greenhouse builders, logistics service providers and many other types of companies and organisations are working together to develop innovation concepts that can be applied to guarantee food security, sustainable energy and effective water management for cities around the world. Thanks in part to their use of technological product innovations and sustainable cultivation techniques, Westland companies have the perfect starting position to play a leading role in securing the global food supply.
The municipality of Westland supports the area's development into an international knowledge and innovation hub with regard to seed enhancement, plant compounds (phytochemicals), the use of raw materials, and growing techniques and niches.
How is it possible to grow tomatoes here using five times less water?
In Westland, an average of 12 litres of water are used to grow 1 kilogram of tomatoes. In Spain, this requires 60 litres of water – 5 times as much. How is that possible?
We grow our tomatoes in greenhouses that use a closed climate control system, and we dose the water more precisely. The quality of the water is also important: in Westland we recycle rainwater, whereas in Spain they usually use groundwater, which is dirtier. This means that you need to dilute fertilizers with a larger amount of water. Of course, we also have a milder climate, so it is not all down to technology. Here, the plants may lose seven litres of water per square metre on a hot summer’s day, through evaporation. In Spain, of course, there are plenty of such days. It will be possible to use even less water per kilogram of tomatoes in the future. Scientific research has shown that four litres per kilogram is possible, and a record of five litres has already been achieved, in completely closed greenhouses in the middle of the desert!
How does the greenhouse horticulture sector manage to continuously reduce its use of fossil fuel?
Greenhouses have a huge energy demand and, certainly in Westland, are at the forefront of innovative and sustainable solutions. Marco van Soerland, director of the geothermal energy project Trias Westland explains.
Growers want to work more sustainably, while also managing their energy costs. You will see all kinds of measures being taken in the greenhouses to reduce the energy and heat demand and to make use of renewable energy. It is certainly possible in and around Westland to use renewable heat as a widespread alternative to natural gas. One example is geothermal energy, but other options include heat from biomass and waste. One interesting project is Trias Westland, which is researching whether enough warm water can be recovered from a depth of four kilometres to meet a significant part of the heat demand in Westland. It is the first time that we have drilled to such depths in the Netherlands. A total of 49 companies are involved in the project – all co-owners. Warm water is pumped up and sent to the greenhouses through a warm water network, then the cooled water is pumped back into the ground to be warmed again by the earth’s core. Many more greenhouse growers in Westland are coming together to research, and switch over to, renewable heat.’
Next to seasonal storage of warm and cold water for houses, the municipality works hard to realise deep geothermal wells. The best example is the Trias Westland project in which water from about 4 km depth will be used for heating of about 40 greenhouses.
World Horti Center
Westland is home to an enormous amount of horticultural know-how. The opening of World Horti Center, which is currently in development, will only reinforce this. This knowledge and innovation centre will offer room for 1.200 students and more than 80 companies will present their most innovative developments there.
World Horti Center has the ambition to become the world’s foremost knowledge and innovation hub in the area of horticulture. It will be an inspiring center of research where experiments can be shown and where education, business, talent and innovation will come together.
- 1200 students
- 100 participants
- 5600 m2 researchcenter
- 266 seats Rabotorium
- 15 meeting facilities
- 25.000 annual visitors
The world of plants consists of over 100,000 plant compounds. The compounds offer endless possibilities – most still largely unknown. They can be used as resource for a wide range of products, such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, crop protection and flavour and fragrance compounds. The large biodiversity of the Dutch agricultural sector makes it an appealing source and supplier of plant compounds to commercial partners who are looking for natural ingredients for their products. The Centre of Expertise for Plant Compounds initiates and facilitates the development of new commercial applications for plant compounds.
Bioboost aims to stimulate a biobased development in horticulture in Europe. In Bioboost triple helix partners from the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom work together to stimulate the development of a biobased economy in horticulture. The municipality of Westland is partner of the project Bioboost
Municipality of Westland
T: +31 (6) 51949 518
Closed water systems
Westland companies are working together with sector organisations, government bodies, district water boards and municipalities to develop emission-free greenhouses, with no discharge into the surface water or sewage system. New techniques are also being developed and grow systems are being improved.
As from January 2018, greenhouse wastewater may no longer contain pesticides. Any wastewater will have to be reused or cleaned before it can go into the sewage system. Legislation also prohibits nutrients in greenhouse waste water. Step by step, the amount of nutrients allowed in wastewater will be reduced to nearly zero by 2027.
Watermanagement in horticulture contributes to efficient regional water use and nutrient recycling through careful water resource management and water treatment.
Horticulture depends on reliable water sources of supreme quality. An optimised irrigation water quality is essential for healthy roots and subsequently crop produce.
In the greenhouse horticultural area of Westland, we work closely together with the Delfland Water Authority on sustainable watermanagement.
Among our various innovative measures are:
- Storing rainwater in the ground
- Dedicating irrigation water reservoirs, owned by growers, to hold rainwater during heavy rainfall
- Collecting the rainwater on the roofs of greenhouses
The Dutch sector of plant reproductive materials produces seeds and young plants for agriculture and horticulture. Dutch companies in this sector are among the world leaders, and many of the largest manufacturers in this sector are based in the Netherlands. Worldwide the Netherlands is one of the largest exporters of plant reproductive material.
Fundamental research is concentrated in few places, but plant breeding is focused on a wide variety of locations and climate zones. Production of seeds and cuttings is done in countries where conditions are optimal for the highest quality. A major part of this production is then imported into the Netherlands for conditioning and quality control, after which they are traded globally.
The innovative and knowledge-intensive Dutch breeding companies, like Rijk Zwaan in Westland, provide high-quality seeds and many new varieties and crops. The advantages of these new varieties benefit the entire production chain. New varieties give higher yields, use less input, leave less wastage during processing and result in a higher product quality and thus greater choice for consumers. Traditionally the sector makes a substantial contribution to societal objectives such as food security, food safety, quality and diversity.
The Netherlands has an exceptionally strong position with a share of around 35% in the global market for plant reproductive material.
The world population is growing expansively. Growth that is using up the earth’s natural resources. Energy sources are drying up, water is becoming a scarce resource. At the same time the demand for food safety, CO2 emission reductions and locally-produced products is increasing. The Dutch Greenhouse constructors play an important role in these developments. It is their mission to enable entrepreneurs throughout the world to produce for their own market. With smart (semi-closed) greenhouses. And with energy and water savings, reduced CO2 emissions, food safety and achieving higher yields of better quality.