FARM MANAGEMENT AND ECONOMIC DRIVERS FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF SOILLESS CULTIVATION OF FIELD VEGETABLES IN THE NETHERLANDS
Current field vegetable production in the Netherlands has difficulty to meet the requirements of the EU directives on water quality and to meet the market require¬ments on food safety, product quality and predictability. Therefore, a multiannual research program has been carried out to develop new soilless systems for field vegetables next to other outdoor horticultural crops. Profitability is a precondition for widespread implementation of these systems and to achieve a significant sustainability impact. This paper focuses on the potential of Deep Flow cultivation systems for vegetables to improve farm management and economics for growers. Results show that these crops give a yield increase on the soilless systems with respect to the soil bound system, mainly by faster growth and higher plant densities. At this moment, the cost prices for vegetables cultivated on this soilless system on a small scale are higher than conventional outdoor vegetables, because of the high capital costs for the soilless system in comparison with the costs for tractors and agricultural machinery and the higher energy requirement for water circulation. We expect that growers are able to make the system profitable for leek, lettuce and spinach by up scaling, optimization of production, mechanization and automation of the system. Product differentiation to high value market segments also offers perspectives to profitable systems, although the thus achieved cultivated area and sustainability impact on a national scale will be limited. The large investment costs in the systems may be a barrier for growers to change over to the soilless cropping system.
de Haan, J.J., Spruijt, J. and Vermeulen, T. (2014). FARM MANAGEMENT AND ECONOMIC DRIVERS FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF SOILLESS CULTIVATION OF FIELD VEGETABLES IN THE NETHERLANDS . Acta Hortic. 1034, 177-183
system design, innovation, cropping systems, profitability, labour, mechanisation, outdoor vegetables, niche markets