16 août  •

Footprint Friday – Natural Growth

How our growers become more environmental friendly… with natural growth
Our growers grow their plants as sustainably as possibly through data-driven cultivation, and for example by making use of circular breeding pots, less and natural crop protection and geothermal heat.
Royal Lemkes believes in the power of cooperation and in transparency. Inspiring and challenging each other, learning from each other and achieving sustainable results together. That is why we are organizing the upcoming months ‘Footprint Friday’ sessions with key growers. On Friday the 28Th of May the third session took place about the subject of ‘making more sustainable with natural growth’. 

Erik van der Helm, cultivation specialist at Bunnik Plants, has been studying the cultivation of resilient plants since 2003. This contributes, among other things, to making cultivation more sustainable. According to Erik, the following five components influence resilient cultivation:

  • The soil, both chemical and physical;
  • The fertilizers, the relationship between organic and inorganic;
  • climate, observing and monitoring the development;
  • water, oxygenated and biologically in balance;
  • the application of biostimulants, which regulate the suboptimal growth conditions.

“When these components are all perfectly balanced, the plant’s immune system works optimally. A healthy and resilient plant is therefore less susceptible to diseases and pests. The plant then grows faster and the use of plant protection products can be kept to an absolute minimum.”

Soil life of the plant
Erik discovered in his own flower garden what effect soil and fertilizers have on the resilience of plants. “In my garden, an olive tree hedge did not grow well; yellow leaves and mealybugs took away the pleasure of gardening, until a supplier advised me to put natural fungi (mycorrhiza) in the soil. The plant grew then very quickly.” I no longer need to put fertilizer. The soil is now crawling with earthworms, the best fertilizer. Colonies of fungi and bacteria form around the root system. These micro-organisms help the plant by unlocking nutrients from the soil. But when the plant is given too much fertilizer, this entire process does not function and the plant can absorb the nutrients poorly. It is therefore essential to administer the correct amounts. The structure of the soil, the air and moisture content of the soil also have a major influence on this process: « the circumstances determine the absorption capacity of nutrients for the plant. »

Biomass (DS%), the BMI index for the plant
Biomass production is also important for resilient cultivation. In short, a low biomass is relatively high in elements and high in simple sugars. A high biomass is lower in elements and high in complex sugars. The latter sugars are difficult or impossible for insects to absorb. “By converting the DS% analyzes taken into an optimum percentage for the plant, you will see and experience differences. On the basis of the DM percentage and, among other things, the fixed nitrogen in the leaves, I can increasingly predict whether aphids will appear or stay away. The correct proportions of all nutritional elements in the soil and in the plant are important for both a healthy soil and a healthy plant. The dry matter content is controlled by the climate, by creating the right conditions I can control the percentage. « 

Vitality of the water
The vitality of the water also affects resilience. For example, Bunnik Plants supplies the storage tanks and water flows with oxygen and the structure of the water is influenced by a waterfall and an artificial mountain stream. The main reasons for this are that the oxygen content in the water increases so that the water becomes more absorbable for the plant.

Plant health benefits
Erik’s growth strategy is based on the natural strength of a plant. “A continuous learning process in which I try to understand what the plant needs and how it operates. The quality of my choices determines the quality of the plant. ” When the focus is on the plant itself and at the same time the right balance is found between the five components – soil, fertilizers, climate, water and the application of biostimulants – the immune system of the plant works optimally. A healthy and resilient plant is therefore less susceptible to diseases and pests. The use of plant protection products can be kept to an absolute minimum. Moreover it can lead to a reduction in the cultivation time of the plant, so that in the end less energy is needed to grow the plant.

It also often increases the quality of the plant, allowing it to remain beautiful longer on the shop shelf but also in the house or in the garden.

Our growers help the Netherlands to become more and more sustainable.
Let’s plantify the future. Together.