State-of-the-art knowledge and innovation

Sustainability, health and innovation

icon greenhouses

In West-Holland, 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, West-Holand companies have the perfect starting position to play a leading role in securing the global food supply.
The municipality of West-Holland 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 West-Holland, 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 West-Holland 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 West-Holland, 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 West-Holland 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 West-Holland. 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 West-Holland are coming together to research, and switch over to, renewable heat.’


Geothermal 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.

Jeroen Straver
Jeroen Straver

Municipality of Westland
T: +31 (6) 51949 518

Growing the future

World Horti Center is the knowledge and innovation center for international greenhouse horticulture. This hub of collaboration is also the main innovation center of the international greenhouse horticulture sector, where business, research, demonstration, teaching and education converge, as well as providing a focus for greenhouse companies to do business.

World Horti Center is a:

  • learning environment for 1200 senior secondary and higher vocational education students
  • modern research center for technology, cultivation systems, crop protection and breeding
  • year-round exhibition with more than 100 leading horticulture businesses
entrance world hort center
World Horti Center

T: +31 (0)174 385600 


World Horti Center will be an international source of information on Indoor Farming

If the greenhouse horticulture sector is going to retain its position as the international market leader, it’s important that the entire greenhouse horticulture supply chain responds promptly to innovative developments that are shaping the future of the sector. World Horti Center is therefore going to work with leading organisations to give a boost to the Netherlands’ innovative strength in the field of Indoor Farming. Together we can tell the world how this cultivation method can contribute to global food supply challenges and how the latest technology can play a role in solving societal issues.

In order to position the entire cluster globally, World Horti Center is working with its partners with expertise in the field of Indoor Farming to create a single physical location for matchmaking, knowledge sharing and collaboration. We are doing this by setting up a two year programme with various events, tours, trials and other activities around Indoor Farming, together with a physical pavilion at World Horti Center.


Tomatoworld: The place to be for agro and horti professionals that want to experience and know all about Dutch Horticulture

Tomato World is an information and education center in Honselersdijk which expresses the great value of the Dutch horticultural sector. Under the guidance of one of our educational guides you’ll meet the dynamic world of Dutch Horticulture.

Tomatoworld is located in West-Holland and consists of an 500 m2 exhibition about the global food challenge, the health of the planet and the health of people. And 1500m2 of greenhouse, best compared with a high-tech showroom, which you can visit. You can experience live how 80 different tomato varieties are grown with the latest techniques. You will see how diseases and plagues are tackled in a biological way and what is being done to get a great, tasty tomato. And ... of course you will taste the different types of tomatoes.

In 2008 Tomatoworld was founded by innovative and relevant partners. Companies which are proud of this vital and sustainable sector and the technological lead it performs in the rest of the world.

miranda van den ende
Miranda van den Ende



Plant compounds and bio based solutions

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.

Willem Kemmers

Project manager Biobased Circular Greenport West-Holland
T. +31 (0)6 2944 7560


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 West-Holland, 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

Margreet Schoenmakers

Glastuinbouw Nederland
T: +31 (0)6 199 435 28


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.

Margreet Schoenmakers

Glastuinbouw Nederland
T: +31 (0) 6 19943528

The Digital Innovation Hub Agrifood

Greenport West-Holland is one of the selected Digital Innovation Hubs Agrifood. The Digital Innovation Hub for Agrifood is part of the Greenport Horti Campus. This campus, is the Research, Innovation and Education Ecosystem of the Greenport West-Holland. World Horti Center  and the Wageningen University and Research Unit Bleiswijk are two of the important locations of the Campus. The Greenport is a regional triple helix cluster. Focus of the Digital Innovation Hub is to develop an innovation ecosystem to digitize greenhouse horticulture systems, robotics and the value chain especially on cyber security and acceptation of data sharing. Stakeholders of the Greenport West-Holland support network development and innovation activities via a special Innovation Pact. Examples of joined activities are conferences, master classes, courses and co-creative and co-innovation projects. All the activities aim to stimulate collaboration between universities, vocational schools and companies preferably on a global scale and stimulates cross-overs and the connection between students and business and support them to innovate.


Smart greenhouses

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 and technology suppliers 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 state-of-the-art technology. And with energy and water savings, reduced CO2 emissions, food safety and achieving higher yields of better quality.


Marga Vintges

Strategy Advisor Innovation, Knowledge Transfer and European relations
Municipality of Westland
T. +31 (0)6 51342675

Integrated Pest Management

More and more growers are opting for a natural approach to pests and diseases, and we're not surprised they are. After all, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) offers many advantages over chemical plant protection for you as a grower, for your employees, and for the sales chain. There’s a whole array of benefits!

Plant Health
Integral parts of this approach include the creation and management of biodiversity within a healthy root zone, plus the steering of assimilates to influence and stimulate plant performance from field to end consumer.

Plant health is crucial to achieving the best possible yield and quality with the lowest possible dependence of pesticides. Although the plant root system is poorly visible, roots play an essential role in maintaining plant health. Roots are the physical foundation of the plant in the soil or substrate, and they take up water, minerals and metabolites to be transported to the leaves, flowers and fruits. Roots also excrete carbohydrates (‘sugars’) and other compounds made in the leaves into the root zone to feed different types of microorganisms such as beneficial bacteria as well as fungi.


Would you like to join us?

If you have any questions or would like to receive more information, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Contact us