In Osterweddingen, Germany, the first harvest of greenhouse strawberries is starting these days. "Elsewhere, the season is ending. With the help of technology we can offer the plants optimal conditions in the autumn as well," says Ulrich Wagner, Managing Director of Wimex Agrarprodukte Import und Export.
The company, based in Baasdorf, Saxony-Anhalt, took over the facility in December 2018 from the insolvency estate of a Dutch investor. For some weeks, around 160,000 strawberry plants of the "Elsanta" variety have been growing there, producing particularly tasty fruits. The significant expansion of the season is made possible by state-of-the-art equipment in the glasshouse complex of the family-run, medium-sized company.
High-tech farming methods
The strawberry plants currently occupy about a quarter of the area in the 63,000-square-meter high-tech greenhouse. There fruits will close the gap between other cultures throughout the year. After the harvest, the plants get a break; Light and temperature are reduced to winter values. In February, there will already be a run up to the next growth period. Then, special LED lighting will support the growth cycle: this is switched on so that the natural daylight is extended to at least twelve hours. That means the strawberry blossoms will start earlier, and at the start of April, there will then already be the first ripe fruits.
Producing foods where they are needed is an important approach that the Wimex Group consistently pursues. Under the brand name Bördegarten, the company organizes the cultivation of more than 20 types of vegetables, partly on its own land with permanent employees. Cultivation in Germany not only enables short distances to the consumer, but also ensures high quality standards that regulators and industry-specific organizations regularly review.
Sustainable heating and irrigation
The question still remains, how sustainable is the heating of a greenhouse in the cold months of the year: "We use the waste heat of an adjacent industrial plant to which we are connected via a special pipe," explains Jos Houwen. This is ecologically and economically sensible, otherwise, the heat would escape unused into the environment. For irrigation, the company uses about 80 percent rainwater, which is directed and stored by the roof surfaces in cisterns. Thanks to the climatic conditions that a process computer controls for each type of plant, the water requirement of the controlled cultivation under glass is significantly lower than that of a culture in the field.
Through the high-tech greenhouse, the Wimex Group strengthens its expertise in the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. In marketing, the company relies on a close partnership with the major retail chains. "A high quality of the products and reliable delivery capability are particularly important here," emphasizes Ulrich Wagner, who, as managing director, personally maintains the contacts to the customers. The framework conditions of the trade today require that suppliers can provide large quantities in uniform quality, in the desired container and at a clearly defined time.
For more information:
Bördegarten Gemüse Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH
Köthener Str. 7 a
06369 Köthen (Anhalt) OT Arensdorf
Tel: 03496-3033 10
Fax: 03496-3033 141