On Thursday, 2 October 2014, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) organised the session "Weerbaar Telen" ("Resilient Cultivation"), held at the Horti House of GreenQ-DLV Plant, in Bleiswijk. In the afternoon, there were 15 participants present. The attendees were a nice mix of growers, suppliers, researchers and consultants from research institutions from different sectors.
Helma Verberkt, of LTO Glaskracht, who chaired the event, gave a brief explanation of the session's purpose. The further reduction in the use of chemicals requires a response for producers to be able to continue growing in the future. One of those responses is the cultivating of more resilient crops.
In the first presentation, Marta Streminska, of Wageningen UR Glastuinbouw, replaced her colleague André van der Wurff. Her lecture focused on topics such as resilience against pests in soil/substrates. She said that there are large differences in resilience between soils and substrates, which became clear on the basis of research into the resistance to Pythium of six chrysanthemum growers; the extent of the Pythium infestation ranged between 10% and 95%.
Roger Boer, of Koppert Biological, gave a presentation titled "Back to the roots". He stressed that NatuGro is a systemic approach with a dynamic balance. Here are many factors involved, such as the soil, the soil's nutrients, fertilisers and the above-ground growth.
The fytopro system of Biopol Natural is based on a system approach. Mark Hoogendoorn explained that they have two multi-species products that become self-sustained when they are sufficiently fed by two specific organic products. He also stressed the importance of a good balance of environmental factors such as fertilisers, oxygen and the growth medium. They have gained a lot of experience over the last year and a half.
The last speaker was Natasha Poot, of BLGG Wageningen. In her detailed presentation she discussed the methods that have been and are being developed to determine the soil's resilience. This showed that the methods are still in development.
During the break, the demo areas on Plant Vitality and Digital Cultivation were visited.
The discussion was started by Helma with two propositions to which only growers were initially allowed to respond. In the first one, she pointed out that resilient cultivation is not just hype, but a serious trend. The growers present took a step further in their responses. They argued that resilient cultivation is going to be an inescapable reality, because the application of chemicals has no future and is already becoming increasingly restricted.
This was a nice transition towards the second proposition, which stated that resilient cultivation techniques will be common in just over five years, a statement not everyone fully agreed with. There are still far too few companies applying it. If there are no breakthroughs in terms of knowledge, development and measurement, it will take longer for sure. Resilient cultivation is a complex process, involving physical, chemical and biological properties of the overall system affecting each other, which is why they must constantly be brought into balance.
As a final conclusion, it was stated that many developments have taken place over the past few years in the field of resilient cultivation, but that in the near future it will still be necessary to promote the acquisition of knowledge and skills in order to find a suitable integrated system of disease management.