Custers Plants is located in Weert, in the Dutch province of Limburg. In recent years, Custers Plants has specialised in growing tropical plants in special shapes, such as Yucca elephantipes and Beaucarnea recurvata. Spathiphyllum, Sansevieria and Philodendron xanadu are also grown here.
The starting material of most plants comes from partners in Central America. These plants have a rich history and are living treasures. In the concept of “Living Treasures”, you can read the stories about this rich past of these plants The website www.custersplants.nl and www.Livingtreasures.eu explain the concepts “Tres Canas”, “Maya Tree” and “Maya Palm”.
Custers Plants considers it important that the plants are grown with the lowest possible burden for nature and with respect for people and their natural environment. The company owns the environmental certificates MPS-A, MPS-GAP and MPS SQ. Further improving the process to grow the products even more sustainably remains the biggest challenge.
Custers Plants is also a member of the Paletti Growers. This is a cooperation of more than 20 nurseries in the Euregio Rhine-Meuse, i.e. the Dutch province of North Brabant, Limburg and the neighbouring region of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Since 2018 Custers Plants applies a completely closed system. The plants get water according to their needs which is supplied by means of a sprinkler system. Thanks to a closed system, all water that has not been absorbed by the plants, is collected: 100% reuse. Thanks to this recirculation, water and fertilizers are optimally utilized. No water ends up in the surface water. The water consumption has no influence on the drinking water supplies in the region.
Custers Plants fights pests and diseases in the plants by using natural enemies of the harmful organisms. Chemical crop protection products are used as little as possible. In case pesticides have to be used, they have a minimal impact on the environment. The use of these agents has already been reduced by 70% in recent years.
The greenhouses are heated with residual heat from the CHP. This is a gas turbine that produces electricity that Custers Plants supplies back to the electricity grid. The heat released by the engine, is used to heat the greenhouses.
In recent years Custers has lowered the temperature in the greenhouses. This is not only saving energy, but also makes the plants stronger with a longer sustainability for the consumer.
Use of materials
The potting soil consists of 30% wood fibre, so less peat is required. This wood fibre is residual material from a sawmill.
The rope used in the “Tres Canas” is made of coconut fibre, a residual material of coconuts.
The pots are made from 97% recycled plastic.
The starting material is purchased in Central America. The plants are no longer transported by plane but by ship. This results in substantial savings on fuel consumption. The suppliers of the starting material are all certified.
The Maya Tree (Yucca) was used by the Maya as a garden fence. The solid trunks provided a clear boundary. The plant was planted a lot along mountain paths, because the strong roots of the plant prevented the soil to wash away. This prevented erosion. Nowadays the Maya Tree is still used around coffee farms to prevent erosion.
Crop Protection Agents Kg Active Ingredient:
Provides insight into the use of plant protection products. Red stands for substances with a high environmental impact, orange for substances with a low impact on the environment, green for substances with a low impact on the environment (Source MPS-A).
Provides insight into the use of the amount of energy. (Source MPS-A)
Fertilizers (KG) Nitrogen and Phosphorus Consumption:
Provides insight into the use of Nitrogen and Phosphorus. (Source MPS-A)
Custers Plants employs 6 people permanently and hires 3 people as temporary staff during peak periods. All these employees (men, women, ethnic minorities, Dutch) are treated equally and have equal opportunities within the company. The working method is based on the conditions described in the Collective Labour Agreement for greenhouse horticulture. Employees therefore have an employment contract, providing them with income security. The temporary employment agency working here also meets the requirements of the Collective Labour Agreement.
Within the company, a great deal of attention is paid to the safety, health (hygiene), welfare and training of employees. This is aimed in particular at employee involvement and responsibility. There is also an occupational health and safety plan and there are various company first respondents.
Did you know that flowers and plants have a healthy effect on people?
Plants provide air purification..
People breathe in air, take out oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. In the case of plants it is the other way around. During photosynthesis, plants remove carbon dioxide from the air and convert it back into oxygen. The amount of oxygen in the air is increased by the presence of plants, which makes breathing easier.
Air-purifying plants can absorb harmful substances from the air through their leaves. These harmful substances are then stored and broken down in the plant’s roots. These plants can also break down dirty odours, so they are actually natural air fresheners.
For the sake of clarity, every (indoor) plant produces oxygen, but not every plant also purifies the air. Air-purifying plants are e.g. the Spathiphyllum, Calathea, Hedera helix (ivy), Areca palm and the Ficus. For many plants we do not yet know to what extent they have an air purifying effect since they have not yet been tested.
Plants ensure a better concentration and a reduction of stress.
Plants create a relaxed and better atmosphere, also at work.. Plants make the workplace a more pleasant place to work.
Apparently there is even a relationship between the presence of plants and the productivity of employees.
Moreover, the presence of plants has a positive effect on the creativity and concentration of people.
Plants reduce the dryness of the air
The dust content and humidity in the house are strongly related with each other. The dryer the air, the more dust. This can cause symptoms such as a tickling cough, dry skin, headaches and irritated eyes. By watering plants, it finally evaporates again through the stomata in the leaves. Plants can thus increase the humidity of the air, which therefore benefits the air quality.
Plants provide a pleasant and warm feeling Research has shown that plants are good for people in various (subtle) ways. They play an essential role in creating a pleasant, natural and quiet environment in which to move, work and/or relax.
Did you know that flowers too have a healthy effect on people? Flowers can brighten up any room in a magical way. They give meaning to our emotions such as love, joy, comfort, compassion and sorrow. Flowers provide a relaxing effect on our constitution. They provide positive energy in the home and a warm feeling. In short, everyone is just very happy about that!
The Dutch greenhouse horticulture sector is worldwide renowned for its innovative power. In order to be one step ahead of the competition from other parts of the world, people are constantly looking for better efficiency in the use of raw materials and space. This, of course, without compromising the (top) quality of the Dutch product.
The glasshouse horticulture sector in the Netherlands can cope with this rapid pace of innovation thanks to a strong relationship between research and practice. In addition, a great deal of knowledge is exchanged between the entrepreneurs in order to make progress together. The flower auctions are a good example of this as one of the largest cooperatives in the world.
Below we describe a few examples of this innovative power.
Biological control and integrated pest management
In order to minimise the use of pesticides and to find a better balance between parasites and their natural enemies, natural enemies of the parasites are used in the greenhouses. Thanks to the intensive exchange of knowledge between the growers and their suppliers, growers are increasingly able to produce a top quality product with organic solutions.
Combined heat and power (CHP)
Combined heat and power (CHP) is a large engine, originating from the shipping industry. Only it has been converted to run on natural gas. The efficiency of this motor is higher than traditional gas boilers. These engines drive a generator that generates electricity. This electricity is used in the company’s own nursery or is supplied back to the public electricity grid. The ‘residual heat’ produced by the engine is used to heat the greenhouses. After cleaning, the exhaust gases can be used to provide the plants with CO2. All in all, these motors provide an efficiency that can be up to 20% higher than the traditional method of heating (gas boilers).
Geothermal energy is used for this type of energy. A drilling tower is used to drill a well to a depth of 2-3 km. At this depth, water of more than 80 degrees can be ‘collected’. This heat is used to heat the greenhouses and then the cooled water is returned to the soil via a second source. It is expected that these sources will be able to continue to produce sufficient heat, even longer than the life of a greenhouse.
Drilling the well is an enormously expensive investment. In addition, there is a great risk that the drilling will ‘fail’. By working together with each other and with governments, in the Netherlands we are able to gain experience with this way of heating greenhouses sustainably.
Plants need water and nutrients to grow. More and more nurseries are making use of the reuse of drainage water. This is water that is collected before it disappears into the subsoil. This ‘drainage water’ still contains many nutrients that can be used by the plants.
By reusing this water and mixing it with clean water, less fertilizer is used.
However, the drainage water also contains some ‘wrong substances’. The content of these wrong substances determines how much water can be reused. The application of new techniques creates opportunities to filter these ‘wrong substances’ out of the water.
In new constructions, more and more growers are opting to cover their greenhouses with diffuse glass. Diffuse glass ensures that light is distributed much more evenly across the crop without any shade or light spots. This leads to a more even greenhouse climate.
Temperature and humidity can thus be controlled more accurately, which means, for example, that the opening of the air windows can be limited, which leads to lower CO2 emissions.
LED lighting in greenhouse horticulture
A new innovation in horticulture is the use of LED lighting. This lighting is not comparable with LED lighting used in consumer use. In the horticultural sector, the lighting is produced by ‘power LEDs’ and therefore much higher. The major advantage of these ‘power LEDs’ is related to sustainable business practices: energy savings compared to high-pressure sodium lamps (orange-coloured lighting). This saves more than half of the energy.
Another major advantage is that when using LEDs, crops can be better controlled using the different colours in the light. This is in favour of a better growth and a higher quality of the product.