The new, sustainably built 240 m2 facility features cutting-edge technology in three separate compartments specially designed for growing crops under different systems.
Just outside Rotterdam, the second city of the Netherlands, lies the quiet town of Vlaardingen. A typically Dutch city, with a wide canal running through the center, windmills close to the old harbor and fantastic rustic architecture. Coincidentally, it is also the site where Yara's Vlaardingen greenhouse has now become operational.
Since commercial greenhouses have strict regulations to protect crops from pathogens - and the easiest way to do this is to ban visitors - the new facility provides a very important site for training, demonstrations of new Yara offerings in the fertigation segment, and it can also be used for product development.
"The first of the three greenhouse compartments is equipped for growing crops in a hydroponic system, where four different nutrient recipes can be supplied simultaneously," says Peter de Vries, Yara Fertigation manager. "The second compartment contains ten flood irrigation tables, each with its own nutrient solution. The last compartment is flexible."
The greenhouse has an overhead irrigation system, and each compartment can have its own climate and fertigation strategy, which is fully controlled by a state of the art computer system. The greenhouse also features input from Yara's Industrial segment and offers a related opportunity for safety training.
Yara Industrial installed the CO2 storage tank, not just to increase yield and show the benefits of CO2 for a crop, but to show how a safe installation must be done. "We also will demonstrate several safety issues to growers and technical companies, for example, our 'gas-phase-protection installation'," says Marcel Wevers, representing Yara's Industrial segment. "This system prevents liquid CO2 entering the greenhouse dosage system, which would create danger for the grower."
Acting sustainable at Vlaardingen
Sustainability is behind every aspect of the new facility. The building itself is partly constructed of re-used glass and aluminum parts. The main water source is rainwater, collected on the greenhouse roof and stored in a silo. Drainage water is collected centrally and stored in a separate silo, and will also be used to feed plants.
"The energy saving shading system in all compartments saves 45% of the heat," Peter adds. "Using waste energy from fertilizer production is a future option, to improve energy efficiency and make the greenhouse even more environmental friendly. Finally, the produced vegetables will be donated to an local aid organization."
The greenhouse will also be used for fertigation and safety training, internally and externally. "We will run at least two global training sessions in 2014, basic and advanced. We will work with the newly developed Yara Fertigation Software and other new tools. At Vlaardingen you will be able to see everything from fertilizer production to crop production," says Wilson Goto Fertigation Specialist, working with Marketing in Yara.
"By having partner companies, distributors and growers visiting the greenhouse, the new facility will deliver our offerings - product and services - plus expertise - services and sales interaction," adds Peter. "This means they also get to know the Yara value proposition."