Category: News
Date published: October 18, 2022

Leading farmers in climate-smart horticulture

Leading farmers in climate-smart horticulture

On 20th October we celebrated the opening of the brand new HortiDemoCentre at Stellenbosch University. Koppert South Africa has been working on this exciting project for many months together with other leading partners in the horticultural sector. As part of a consortium including local and Dutch companies, in partnership with Stellenbosch University, we feel privileged to be working together to lead farmers in climate-smart horticulture.

The HortiDemoCentre will specialise in protected horticulture and will showcase the best and most cutting-edge in Dutch horticultural technology. The HortiDemoCentre will work towards being a viable business in the long term by implementing innovative Dutch technologies for profitable, productive, sustainable and climate smart agronomy and offering training to students (and eventually jobs) and emerging farmers.

As partners, Delphy BV, Stellenbosch University, Greener Solutions, Ludvig Svensson, Ridder Group, Rijk Zwaan, Control Union and Koppert South Africa all contribute a broad spectrum of knowledge and technology throughout the horticultural value chain: from seed to market, to aim to develop, together with South African farmers, a business case for production for high end markets in South Africa. Target groups of the centre include commercial and emerging farmers, students, agronomists, researchers, local government and extension services, and value chain actors such as buyers and retailers.

The HortiDemoCentre will not only focus on the improvement of farming methods, but by focusing on the entire value chain, markets for the products will be improved and ultimately jobs will be created with climate-smart horticulture. The HortiDemoCentre will:

• Provide training, skills and knowledge exchange on good farming practices and entrepreneurship for new and existing growers (students) and (emerging) commercial farmers.

• Engage other important stakeholders and value chain partners and develop a new market for sustainable agriculture and technologies such as on water efficiency, climate resistant inputs, biological pest management, post-harvest inspection and certification.

  • Strengthen the position of (Dutch) greenhouse technology and high-quality inputs in the South African market. It will achieve this by showcasing the technologies, involving investors, and creating a different mindset towards technologies by linking them to the sustainable farming aspects that are needed for future farming.

• Contribute to food security by increasing the local production and availability of quality food products that are nutritious and safe and allow access to premium markets.

Just a few of the innovative technologies we have in place are:

- Drain water is recycled, but first disinfected by UVC radiation using a Ridder Vitalite system.

- Rainwater is harvested and storage is installed for 500 000 litres.

- The pump room is part of the greenhouse and covered in double walled polycarbonate instead of greenhouse film.

- Fertigation is the responsibility of the Ridder FertiMix unit, sized for the facility. Four fertiliser dosing channels provide various recipe options.

-The greenhouse has a motorised shading system to protect crops against excess light levels.

- A centre pathway of concrete provides easy access for crop cultivation and harvesting activities.

- A bio-security entrance room helps maintain hygiene.

- A safety rail on the two side gutters, 5m above ground, prevents falling during maintenance activities on the greenhouse.

- IP net in the roof vents protects the crops against insect damage.

The HortiDemoCentre will also offer a potential site for independent trials for the commercial vegetable sector. It will be able to generate local and nonpartisan data on vegetable varieties on behalf of commercial seed companies through being administered by Stellenbosch University.

To keep up to date on future training and events, please follow the centre on LinkedIn: HortiDemo Centre Stellenbosch, SA.