Houwenplant

Houwenplant is a family business founded in 1974. Since 2008, the company has specialised in the cultivation of potted anthuriums and is now the market leader with +/- 5 million plants per year. The main location is located in Hoek van Holland.

Many different colours are grown in 7 different pot sizes. In addition, anthuriums are produced in several specialized locations in an 18cm trays and in 25cm trays. Houwenplant stands for the one-stop shopping in potted anthuriums and supplies both a finely meshed sales segment as well as large-scale actions throughout Europe. The customer base is therefore very diverse, consisting of florists, garden centres, C&Cs, DIY stores and supermarkets.

Houwenplant grows sustainably and meets all legal requirements in the field of crop protection products, fertilisers and energy consumption. Because Houwenplant supplies very strong plants, consumers can enjoy the potted anthurium they have bought for at least 6 months.

Sustainability

Water
Houwenplant uses tap water and ditch water. All water is first purified and then given to the plants. This is done by means of an ebb and flow system and a spray system (i.e. sprinkling from above). The water is used very sparingly. The water that is not absorbed by the plants is collected again, purified and reused. No used water ends up in the surface water. The water consumption has no influence on the drinking water supplies in the region.

 

Biodiversity
Pest control occurs as much as possible 100% organicaly by using natural enemies so that as few crop protection products as possible are required. Houwenplant is in possession of all certificates showing that the company is very good at environmentally friendly business and cultivation. Houwenplant even meets the extra-legal requirements for the use of neonicotides.

A weak plant is more susceptible to pathogens than a vital plant. The biggest challenge is therefore to grow the plant vigorously, making it less susceptible to pests and diseases.

 

Climate

Houwenplant uses a CHP (combined heat and power) that simultaneously generates electricity and heat by burning natural gas in a boiler. The heat is used to keep the greenhouses warm and the electricity is sold to the electricity grid.

Houwenplant is currently working on installing solar panels on the roof of the barn in order to obtain energy. In addition, extra screen cloths were installed in 2017 that are energy-efficient and provide additional energy savings. This reduces the use of fossil fuels.

Through the combination of decentralised cultivation and central processing, Houwenplant also tries to save on energy consumption. By supplying full trucks with products to the central processing location, many small transport movements from 5 locations to customers are prevented. So combining transport saves transport energy. The plants are transported from the central processing location to the auctions in the Netherlands via a large transport company.

Pure CO2 is needed to allow the plants to grow. This CO2 is obtained by Houwenplant being connected to the OCAP (organic CO2 for assimilation by plants) network. This network ensures that the pure CO2, which is released as a waste product from the gas industry, can be used by Houwenplant. All waste at Houwenplant is separated and the company collecting it processes it into compost, which ultimately results in a reduction of gas emissions.

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).

Energy (GJ):

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)

People

The company Houwenplant has grown strongly since 2008 and provides an income for 20-80 people throughout the year. All permanent employees have an employment contract in line with the statutory Collective Labour Agreement for the greenhouse horticulture sector and therefore offers them income security. The temporary workers have an employment contract through the temporary employment agency with which Houwenplant has an agreement. These employment contracts specify the number of hours to be worked, days of leave, etc. All the employees and their families are housed in normal conditions. In case of any problems, Houwenplant will assist them.

 

Employees get the opportunity to develop themselves and to grow to another job by means of training courses. It is even possible to grow to management level. There is a multicultural workforce with Dutch, Turkish, Polish and Egyptian workers working at Houwenplant. The religions they adhere differ, but everyone is free to express them. Everyone is treated equally.

The Collective Labour Agreement rules are particularly well observed. We also provide good protective work clothing and a safe working environment.

Within Houwenplant, there are regular interns from various training courses in the region.

Health

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!

Care

Innovation

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
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.

 

Water purification
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.

 

Diffuse glass
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.

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