The impact started to become clear almost as soon as the Spanish branch opened in 1994. Sales of bumblebees for the pollination of tomatoes exploded in the first few years. The huge improvements in quality and production brought about by this natural form of pollination resulted in a great increase in demand. 'Bumblebees were the first major trigger of change among growers. The use of bumblebees meant they had to alter the way they used chemicals,' remembers Kris de Smet, commercial director of Koppert Spain.
Managing director Henri Oosthoek of Koppert Biological Systems speaks to the attendees at the seminar on Tuesday, July 8. In the background a picture of Jan Koppert, founder of the company.
Biological pest control saved sweet peppersThe second revolution came when sweet pepper buyers started to refuse peppers grown in Almería due to chemical residues, some of which were actually illegal. 'Biological pest control saved Almería's sweet pepper production sector.' It wasn't long before tomato growers also switched en masse to using natural enemies, swiftly followed by growers of other crops. Kris de Smet explains: 'The switch to biological control has gone down in history as one of the changes in horticulture with the biggest impact over the last few decades.'
Koppert has always been a pioneer in far-reaching changes such as this one. 'We can be grateful to our highly-motivated and professional team for that. The company's drive for innovation has also been a powerful factor, and is the reason why Koppert Spain has always invested heavily in R&D. I have a great sense of pride when I look back at what we have achieved, and I am particularly proud of the wonderful team we have here.'
New revolutionThe developments just keep on coming. 'A new revolution is just around the corner and will address plant health as a whole: NatuGro. I expect NatuGro and microbiological agents to take an increasingly important role and to form the basis for zero residue cultivation,' says De Smet. 'The biological balance is not just about the insects; we have to achieve that balance in the soil and in the plant itself, too.'
FestivitiesKoppert Spain's 20th anniversary celebrations have included a seminar attended by a few hundred guests last Tuesday. Among the speakers were representatives of Freshfel (the forum for the European fresh fruits and vegetables chain), the Dutch Agriculture Council (Landbouwraad), and the certification organization Agrocolor. Henri Oosthoek, the managing director of Koppert Biological Systems, and Koppert Spain's commercial director Kris de Smet also gave presentations.
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