Pot plant company KB Plants B.V. grows under 6 hectares of glass and is located in the Westland (the glass city), Zuid-Holland between the cities of Rotterdam, The Hague and Hoek van Holland. Wim van den Berg started the company in 1939 by growing vegetables and potatoes. In the ‘70s they switched to cut flowers and in the ‘90s to pot plants.
The company is now run by the brothers Dave and Jelle van den Berg. Since 2010, production has started to be more sustainable for cost and environmental reasons. It is certainly not easy, but every year, steps are taken in this area towards a fully sustainable cultivation. Their most beautiful challenge remains to deliver a beautiful product, that you can enjoy as a consumer.
Two water sources are used:
1 Rainwater collected from glass roof of our greenhouses is stored in a 5 million litre reservoir or in silos. We have a total storage capacity of 8 million litres of clean rainwater. In case of extreme rainfall this helps water boards because it does not end up in the ditches.
2 Ditchwater. This water will have to be as clean as possible.
The water is sprayed over the plants via a water spray system. Whatever the plant does not absorb immediately is collected by waterproof floors, purified and then reused. We supplement any shortfalls with water from the basin.
Pest control occurs as much as possible organically, i.e. through the use of natural enemies, so that we need to use as little plant protection product as possible. For example, we have open windows in the greenhouse allowing bees, wasps and bumblebees to fly into the greenhouse to collect pollen from our flowers. And it is precisely these animals that help to reduce the effects of plant lice.
In addition we are working nice and need with healthy starting materials. Cuttings for the Conifers and Skimmia’s are grown under own management and the tubers for the Zantedeschia/Calla are purchased from our regular growers in Noord-Holland
Concerning energy consumption and emission of gases regarding air pollution.
All waste is separated and the company collecting it processes it into compost, which ultimately results in a reduction of gas emissions.
By working with energy-saving screens, heat stays inside and the use of fossil fuels (natural gas, petroleum etc.) is reduced. In the winter, cultivation takes place in the cold and when it gets warmer, the sun provides the heat in the greenhouse.
All plants are eventually transported to the customers with a Euro 6 truck. This generation of lorries makes a major contribution to cleaner air.
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)
Employees get the opportunity to develop themselves and to grow to another job by means of training courses. Employees could become foremen, or team managers.
Male and female employees are treated equally. The Collective Labour Agreement rules are particularly well observed. Every employee has an employment contract and therefore has income security enabling them to provide themselves with a proper place to live.
We also provide good protective work clothing and a safe working environment. In addition, each employee is given the freedom to express his/her own religion and we sponsor campaigns against bullying in school.
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!
Skimmia Japonica Rubella:
Cupressus Goldcrest Wilma:
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.