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Interview with Hanco Leuvenink and Peter de Vries from Dutch company Yara

What does circular greenhouse horticulture mean for horticulture businesses?

The Business Unit Greenhouse Horticulture & Flower Bulbs from Wageningen University & Research investigates the upcoming years what circular greenhouse horticulture might mean for horticulture businesses. The research is financed by the Club van 100; a number of members of this initiative are also part of the supervisory committee (SC) of the research, including the crop nutrition company Yara. Hanco Leuvenink and Peter de Vries from Yara explain: "Circular horticulture requires collaboration between various parties within one sector."

Hanco and Peter, in what way is Yara involved with circular horticulture?

Hanco: "Yara develops various initiatives to strongly reduce its CO2 footprint. This happens through internal optimisation of factory processes, but als through cooperation on a global scale."

Peter: "Yara's mission is as follows: 'Responsibly feed the world and protect the planet.' We believe that everyone should treat the earth with respect. This not only counts for growers, but for every part of the chain and everyone on the entire planet."

Which concrete steps are you taking?

Hanco: "A recent and local development is the collaboration with the Norwegian Northern Lights, which would allow transportation of CO2 from Sluiskil to Norway, where it can be stored in empty grass fields. From the start of 2025, 800,000 tons of pure CO2 will be apprehended in the Netherlands, then compressed, liquified and transported to the Northern Lights storage facility at 2,600 meters beneath the seabed off the shore of Øygarden, Norway. In doing so, a great step is taken to reduce the CO2 emission of productional location Sluiskil to zero."

What does the development of green ammonia look like?

Peter: "Yara is working hard to develop the use of 'Clean Ammonia', which includes both blue ánd green ammonia. Blue ammonia is derived from blue hydrogen, produced based on natural gas: the CO2 is stored in permanent reservoirs after a carbon capture and storage process (CCS). Green ammonia is produced free of carbon by using green hydrogen produced based on renewable energy. The production of clean ammonia is, therefore, a much more environmentally friendly way to create chemical fertilizer."

Hanco: "In collaboration with Yara in Sluiskil, an electrolyser of 100MW is being developed. Its purpose is to replace fossil fuels with renewable hydrogen to produce green ammonia for the Sluiskil factory of Yara. This system could uphold the production of approximately 75,000 tons of green ammonia. The project is expected to be operational by 2024/2025."

Could Yara use waste flows for producing fertilizers?

Peter: "Recently, the first organic fertilizer has been produced under the name 'YaraSune Bio'. This is an organic-mineral, complex-grained fertilizer that has especially been developed for biological agriculture. What makes this fertilizer special, is that it's made in Finland based on natural resources of plant and animal origin. These are by-products, such as vinasse, that emerge in the production of biofuel from wood."

Hanco: "In Brasil a collaboration has been established with Raizen, the country's biggest sugarcane and ethanol group. Raizen will deliver 20,000 cubic meter of bio-methane on a daily basis for the production of sustainable ammonia."

Why did you join the SC of Circular greenhouse horticulture?

Peter: "We want to take responsibility. Circular operation requires collaboration with various parties within a single sector. That's how we look at the SC. Additionally, we want to learn from others and provide input of our own. The first research phase consists of taking inventory of what is happening already. Based on this information we can take the next steps together."

Source: Wageningen University & Research 

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