In recent years Bejo have organised many symposia during the Open Days, and up until now a crop has always been the central focus. This year however Bejo decided that the plant raiser, an important player in the sector, should be in the spotlight. Since many different crops start life with a plant raiser, this was a good networking opportunity for anyone wanting to produce the perfect plant. The symposium ‘All about young plants’ was visited by more than 150 participants from over 15 different countries, reflecting a huge interest worldwide.
The different roles and responsibilities between young plant growers and seed companies has often been discussed. One important aspect is always agreed upon though: plant raisers and seed companies have a joint responsibility to deliver high calibre material to the growers.
Bejo works closely with their plant raiser partners to achieve this, and the process begins with top quality seed as a starting point to produce healthy young plants. From seed to young plant requires considerable interaction and communication between the two partners, and each party contributes its own expertise and knowledge. Regular discussions and intense cooperation between the parties also takes place for projects involving seed quality, vigour, germination, seed health and the introduction of improved genetics into the market.
"In recent years, we have faced some complex issues together. We see that the vegetable producing chain is changing rapidly all over the world, with less and less small players and more and more large producers and retail organisations dominating the business. We also notice that such parties are often trying to avoid any risks, and as a result shift any possible liabilities backwards in the chain", the breeder notes.
"Another unpredictable situation we find ourselves in is the use of chemicals during the young plant stage. In the EU, and many other parts of the world, the possibilities for using approved chemicals in the seed coating or plant raising stage are getting less and less. In addition, some retailer and consumer organisations are developing their own standards on the use of chemicals and the resulting levels of residues in the end products."
One of the presenters, Mike Gitzels, young plant specialist at Gitzels Horti Projects, addressed some of these points by raising the question ‘Worldwide sharing knowledge about brassica propagation: opportunity or threat?’ A platform to share knowledge about cultivation, organic production, biological pest control and water management is an advantage, Mike believes.
Corine de Groot, Physiology Research Lead at Bejo, discussed what Bejo is doing to measure and improve seed quality. One procedure is seed testing, which is performed during all steps of the process. Insights were also shared in seed technology research, e.g. blindness in brassica, different methods of seed disinfection, coating and pelleting, seed sorting, air separation, seed by seed measurement and priming – all processes which contribute to deliver healthy, quality seeds to customers.
Corine was followed by Sjoerd van der Ent, Manager R&D Microbiology, Koppert biological systems. Maximising microbial potential for plant cultivation – It’s all about application – was a promising title for his presentation. He gave a talk about microbes being beneficial. As a society we don’t know much about microbes, but they are everywhere, and they influence everything. Sjoerd concluded: ‘Microbes have huge potential for agri/horticulture. However, they are live organisms… care is a prerequisite to obtain success. Thorough understanding of both the microbe and the objective is required to set production parameters. The logistic chain needs to be set-up properly, and application is crucial!’
Finally, Tom Könniser, Business Development Manager for Signify (formerly Philips lighting) talked about how LED solutions can grow your business. In our changing world with urbanisation, a growing population, food accessibility and limited natural resources, high tech horticulture will become more and more important in the future.
After a morning with some positive discussion led by chairman Bart Kuin, the symposium was closed by a networking lunch where Brussels sprouts were the main ingredient. In the afternoon, participants were invited to the seed quality tour where they could discuss with Corine de Groot and her team the research being carried out and processes followed by Bejo to measure and improve seed quality.
According to Bart Kuin the interaction between the participants of the ‘all about young plants’ symposium, including the knowledge sharing, was beneficial to all involved.
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