At our company we continuously think about possibilities to make our company more sustainable. As far as we’re concerned, the three main strivings are:
- A completely energy-neutral company for all business units: breeding, production, preparation and processing of plant material;
- Replacing chemical control with biological control agents and non-environmentally harmful agents;
- Full circularity through reuse of all organic residual flow.
Logically, not all of these objectives can be achieved in the short term. However, steps are continuously being taken in the right direction. The following have now been realized or are under investigation:
In the summer period, the gas boiler is switched off and the electric heat pump can produce the required heat. Gas is only needed during this period to steam the soil for each new crop. Unfortunately, there are currently no immediately usable alternatives for this, but the search for these continues.
Sources for heat and cold storage are used to cool the freesia and amaryllis. In summer, part of the cold water is pumped up from the cold well, after which the heated water is pumped into the warm well. This can be used in winter with which part of the heating can be filled in this way.
For several years now, our company has been connected to the OCAP network, whereby CO2 from the ports of Rotterdam (which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere) is used in the greenhouse to improve the growing conditions. This means that it is no longer necessary to switch on the boiler if there is a CO2 demand from the crop
It is currently also being investigated whether it is possible to make part of the roof of the industrial hall suitable for solar panels. This could cover a significant part of the electricity consumption in the period March to October.
Biological (Pest) Control
Unfortunately, the use of biological control agents in freesia cultivation has only been partially successful. The relatively low temperatures slow down the activity of these pest control agents, so that it is still necessary to adjust crop protection. In amaryllis cultivation, the effectiveness is considerably higher and part of the control is now done organically.
Usage of residual volumes
The green waste at our company generally consists of two major flows: mixed green waste from the cultivation and processing of freesia and amaryllis and freesia straw that is released after processing freesia tubers with leaves. Since 2020, the first stream has been largely processed in a composting machine. As a result, the discharge to waste processing has been reduced by 75%, and the compost is used as soil improvement in the greenhouse. This has also reduced the costs of fertilizer by an average of 10%.
For the second stream (freesiastro), we have been actively looking for opportunities for some time to add value to this fiber-rich residual stream. Pilots have since been started with processing as raw material for paper and panels for interior construction.
In the meantime, all coffee cups and plastic drinking cups from the water cooler have been replaced by compostable cups, which are also processed into compost after use in the composter.
Other industrial waste is separated as much as possible: there are now separate containers for paper, cardboard, metal and glass. As a result, the amount of other waste that is transported to the waste processor has decreased by approximately 40%.