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André Vahl, Gebr. Vahl:

"Netherlands: "The New Cultivation" increasingly successful after 2 years"

According to André Vahl of nursery Gebr. Vahl the New Cultivation is the way of the future. “We are now in our third season and we are slowly getting the hang of it. We have learned a lot in the past 2 years. I’m convinced our installation contributes to a better use of available energy.”

In 2010, Vahl erected an additional 2-hectare greenhouse. “We were already thinking about geothermal energy, and saw potential in a new isolated greenhouse able to utilize thermal heat. The new construction is 7 metres high with a double screen. The front is made of stegdoppel plates and we have installed a Priva Climate Optimizer air-conditioning system to limit climate interference.”

The first season of cucumber propagation wasn’t without difficulties. “The crops just weren’t growing properly. After intensive study we concluded that the installation must be used sparingly in the beginning. Too much air circulation just isn’t good for young cucumber plants. You have to get some volume going before you start meddling with air and humidity.”

“The second year was a lot better. We were more cautious I think. I don’t have the numbers on the amount of energy we saved, but I know it was a lot. The New Cultivation definitely works for us. Compared to the other nursery, were we did things traditionally, we were much more energy-efficient.”

“This year we have a ‘hot start’. We intent to keep the nursery around 15 degrees. The pumps are working anyway. The heat doesn’t just work for crops by the way: our people are much happier working in a warm environment during winter.”

“My absolute favourite are the moveable double screens. These really allow you to regulate your own climate. If December is soft, you don’t have to close them. And if April decides to be chilly, you just close up and use the LBK to dehumidify the place. In the new nursery, we kept the windows closed and saved on CO2.”

“I’m convinced the New Cultivation can do wonders for other people in the business. Saving energy is important, but you always have to keep looking at the crops, learn to operate new technology.”


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