Growers in the Netherlands had to contend with a dry period in recent weeks. Because of these extreme weather conditions, growers have to take various measures when looking at resources, usage, energy and water. For example, current water storage is often not sufficient for this long period of drought. In the horticultural area around Dinteloord, this shortage has been solved by using water from the Suiker Unie: the sugar factory, also known as the irrigation water factory.
Sugar beet consists of 70% water, which is released during the production of sugar. The production period of beets is in winter, September to January. Previously this water was discharged, now it is taken in again and purified by the Suiker Unie. At the start of 2018, the ASR (Aquifer Storage and Recovery) was put into operation, which serves as an underground storage for water produced in autumn / winter. This will compensate the shortages of the following summer.
Purple Pride spoke to eggplant grower Peter de Jong about the benefits that the irrigation plant, in use since 2014, offers to him. De Jong, pleased with the irrigation water plant, says that in the past he had to make use of tap water, which is of a lower quality and also does not contribute to the sustainability of the cultivation locations. The irrigation water that originates from the production of sugar is purified and completely sustainable when it is reused.
On average, De Jong has a coverage of 90% from rainwater. This means that there is often a shortage during the summer. For the remaining 10% De Jong uses the sustainable water from the irrigation water plant during dry periods in summer. Since 2014, De Jong has been using this water supply in the summer of 2017 and in the current summer. This summer, it amounted to 11.000 m3 irrigation water so far. In the future, the irrigation water plant will become an important sustainable source for the growers in Dinteloord especially, as it is expected the Netherlands is facing more and longer dry periods in the future.