The second trial with the cultivation of chrysanthemums on a cultivation floor was concluded successfully during a meeting at the ErfGoed test garden in Moerkapelle last Monday. According to the research manager Cock van Bommel of ErfGoed and René Corsten, senior chrysanthemum advisor at research and consultancy firm Delphy, this is a robust system: “The results are promising and they merit further investigation. So now is the time to introduce this cultivation system in a practical setting.”
The second trial was conducted in cooperation with Delphy, Van Iperen, chrysanthemum breeding company Deliflor, Signyfy lighting and potting soil supplier Van der Knaap. The difference with the previous trial is that this one was based on year-round cultivation. Van Bommel: “The short-day period began two weeks after planting. We harvested after nine weeks.” Corsten: “We have a relatively small test facility here where the conditions are not always ideal. Despite these limitations, the results are positive. I’m convinced that a chrysanthemum grower can achieve much more. This cultivation system has now proven itself for the second time so it’s worth rolling it out further.”
The fertilisation plan for the second trial was supplied by Van Iperen, while Van der Knaap provided a special potting soil mixture for one of the trial set-ups. Soil from growers was used in the other three test set-ups. Van Bommel: “The potting soil mixture delivered a quicker start and longer stems, but the growers’ soils produced slightly heavier twigs. It still remains to be seen whether that picture will be maintained in the long term. Obviously, it’s important that this is a closed cultivation system and so you can deliver all the nutrients required with the irrigation water.”
In addition to representatives from the participating companies, a number of chrysanthemum growers were present last Monday afternoon. They are also hoping that a practical trial can be conducted soon, either at a grower’s or otherwise at the improvement centre in Bleiswijk. Van Bommel: “The government is providing a range of tax benefits for zero-emission growing. ErfGoed knows its way around and we will be happy to help interested growers.”
Corsten: “The quality remains important. We have to be able to guarantee that. Chrysanthemum cultivation in the Netherlands is an elite sport. You can only be successful if you deliver a top-class product. Anything less than excellent just won’t do. “So you have to be very sure about what is possible. And of course the cost price is high but that isn’t a problem if the benefits in terms of growth are adequate. “ErfGoed will be launching a similar trial soon, but this time with lisianthus.” Van Bommel: “We tried that six years ago with coir on the ErfGoedFloor. The results were disappointing. With what we have learnt from working with chrysanthemums, we expect to improve those results with this crop as well.
Van Iperen and ErfGoed commissioned an informative video of the chrysanthemum trial. Growers who would like to receive this video can register on the Van Iperen and ErfGoed website.
Van Bommel believes that the ErfGoedFloor delivers a number of other important benefits. “First of all, you can use it to create a closed system and eliminate emissions to the subsurface. And obviously, as well as the environmental benefit, you also save on the cost of water and fertilisers that can be reused.” The benefit of watering the crop from below is that the plants don’t get wet and so fungi and weeds have little chance. Another important advantage is the fact that the shallow layer means much less steaming is needed when changing crops. “The fact that disinfection is much more effective allows growers to make the most of biological crop protection.” Biological products only were used during the trials at ErfGoed. “Because watering is from below only, the biological products aren’t rinsed off the leaves and so they are much more effective.”