Enforcer Piet Lugtigheid:

"Growers have pushed boundaries in water management"

He’s the enforcer at the Hollandse Delta water board, but also uses his knowledge and experience for another Dutch water board: Rivierenland. This means that Piet Lugtigheid is involved in the water aspect of greenhouse horticulture from the west coast to the eastern border of the Netherlands. A large area with a lot of variation in cultivation companies, but with a clear similarity: "Over the past two years, entrepreneurs in greenhouse horticulture have pushed boundaries in the field of water management and purification."

A lesson in Dutch topography: the Hollandse Delta includes the area of the South Holland islands, including Voorne-Putten, the Hoekse Waard and Goeree-Overflakkee, but also the growers near Barendrecht and Ridderkerk belong to this water board. Rivierenland includes, among other areas, the Betuwe, Bommelerwaard and Huissen horticultural areas.

A vast working area for Piet Lugtigheid, who is speaking of large regional differences, also within a water board. "Ridderkerk is the area of soil-bound lettuce cultivation, an area that is under pressure because of the advancing trade center. These are totally different companies than in Tinte / Vierpolders, where large-scale, modern greenhouse vegetable companies are located. Also the Bommelerwaard is characterized by innovation and expansion, with the emphasis on chrysanthemum cultivation. That is also a separate discipline because of the cultivation on the soil."

Hard deadline
Naturally, the past two years were, also for Piet Lugtigheid, mainly characterized by the water purification obligation, which came into force on January 1, last year. "Step 1 was the timely preparation of entrepreneurs for what was going to change. A big advantage was that I had been around for quite a few years, including as a practical researcher, so that I know many companies and had visited them regularly. In addition, many meetings were organized to transfer as much knowledge as possible."

Good measuring, but especially the careful mapping of the water flows at the company, is the priority here, Lugtigheid emphasizes. "Glastuinbouw Nederland has emphasized this a lot and rightly so. Of course there was also a hard deadline due to the new legislation. The growers quickly recognized the importance, but in any case there was hardly any room to move things forward. All together, this has led to definite pushing of boundaries "

The prevailing idea was, according to the enforcer, that every company in glasshouse horticulture has to discharge. "It is amazing how many growers are able to fully reuse the recirculation water. The number of registered zero discharge companies exceeds expectations. The water scan that was carried out was the basis for this, but supported by targeted research and new techniques, entrepreneurs actually dared to take the step."

Has this all led to the desired result? "If you see how many companies have definitively been able to terminate the discharge of drainage or irrigation water and have been certified by the competent authorities as zero discharge, this is already an important positive result. Of course you expect and hope that the effect on the surface water is also visible and measurable, but that remains difficult."

Leaks and unexpected and unforeseen water streams still occur. "Moreover, in the soil-bound cultivation you also have to deal with external water. The Bommelerwaard, for example, is like a bathtub between the rivers Maas and Waal. Water flows in this area are therefore continuously changing, with all the effects that that entails. Stable groundwater is a point of attention there."

And the level of that groundwater in the case of ground cultivation companies naturally influences the quantity of drainage water to be discharged. Increasing the groundwater level is therefore appealing, with the question: how deep should the cultivation layer be for my crop?

Better measurement
In conclusion, Piet Lugtigheid indicates that growers can still improve a lot in measuring the water to be discharged in the correct way. In practice he regularly comes across a meter being installed, but in such a way that measuring is not done properly. For example, sometimes the silos are placed in such a way that there actually is no room to place a meter properly. "At a later stage, I would like to tell you a bit more about this and, by means of an explanatory drawing, to propose a simple solution."

Source: Glastuinbouw Waterproof

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