Behind the tulip bloom: unlocking the code of Dutch horticulture

  This year, the Dutch embassy in China and the Economic Network will hold a traveling exhibition of “Netherlands Floral Installations” throughout the year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and China at the ambassadorial level.
  This traveling exhibition of floral installations not only shows the intersection of the history of China and the Netherlands in many aspects, but also vividly reflects the world-leading Dutch horticultural industry.
  The horticulture industry, which occupies an important position in agriculture, is a model for the greatness of the small country of the Netherlands. As one of the world’s largest exporters of agricultural products and food, the value of Dutch agricultural exports exceeded 100 billion euros for the first time in 2021, a record high. In addition, the Netherlands, known as the “Garden of Europe”, also has many outstanding achievements.

The opening ceremony of the Dutch floral installation exhibition was held in Yuntai Garden
Outstanding achievements in Dutch agriculture

  ●The Netherlands is one of the three largest vegetable and fruit producing countries in the world.
  ●The Netherlands supplies 1/4 of the vegetables exported from Europe.
  ●The Netherlands is the world’s most important flower supplier, supplying about 80% of the world’s bulb flowers.
  ●The Netherlands controls 1/4 of the global trade in horticultural products.
  ● The Netherlands is the world’s third largest exporter of plant food.
  Starting from the development history of the Dutch horticultural industry, this paper introduces the key points of the development of the Dutch horticultural industry according to the theme, further analyzes the horticultural development experience and future direction of the “Dutch Model”, and provides reference for the development of the horticultural industry in other countries.
Looking back on the history of Dutch horticulture

  Before the 1950s, due to the harsh natural environment, agricultural production in the Netherlands could not meet the needs of the country. Due to the low-lying terrain, 20% of the country’s land is artificially reclaimed, with a total area of ​​more than 29 million mu of arable land, and there is a lack of a good environment for the cultivation of agricultural products. The land resources are limited and the light is insufficient, but such conditions have not restricted the development of Dutch agriculture.
  In the 1950s, with the strong support of the government, Dutch agriculture began to develop vigorously. After more than half a century of precipitation, it has formed today’s high-tech agriculture, which is mainly reflected in glass greenhouse agriculture, horticultural flowers, biological Prevention and control technology, electronic information technology, etc. The horticulture industry accounts for 38% of the agricultural composition of the Netherlands, and farmland crops account for 12%. The sum of the two accounts for half of the country, and has successfully attracted world attention in this field.

  Of the 10.2 million acres of land in the Netherlands, nearly half is devoted to high-value agriculture and food production. On this land, the Netherlands produces high-quality, sustainable healthy food and develops innovative agricultural and horticultural solutions that contribute to healthier diets, safer food chains and a strong flower market.
Development priorities for the Dutch horticulture industry

  From green environment to clean water resources, from logistics to smart greenhouses, from organic cultivation to food safety, Dutch Horticulture actively responds to challenges from multiple topics and aspects, and proposes efficient solutions, which we will introduce one by one below.
  Green environment, comfortable life
  According to the report released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on February 28, 2022, the warming situation will make the world face multiple climate hazards in the next 20 years. At the same time, the development of an aging population leads to increasing medical costs, and the negative impact of urbanization is also increasing. In addition, the problem of air quality also needs to be solved urgently.
  The Dutch horticultural sector believes that a healthy life and a comfortable working environment are indispensable to the protection of nature, and trees and plants provide solutions to the main challenges mentioned above. By developing and applying practical and manageable green concepts, the department is now focusing on the positive impact of nature on human health and well-being.

  Precious water resources
  As early as 1977, the United Nations issued a solemn warning to the world at the “United Nations Water Conference”: the next crisis after the oil crisis is the water crisis. On March 22, 2022, we are about to usher in the 30th “World Water Day” with the theme of “cherish groundwater and treasure hidden resources”. Water is the source of brewing life and an important part of all living organisms.
  The water resource problem is not only a resource problem, but also a global problem that is not optimistic and needs to be solved urgently. For example, how to reduce the release of nutrients and crop protection agents to groundwater and surface water? Dutch Horticulture is committed to providing answers to global questions about clean and economical water, sufficient fresh water for purposes such as food production, and a reduced water footprint.
  Energy and carbon dioxide The European Green Deal officially released by the
  European Commission in December 2019 clearly pointed out that to build the world’s first “climate neutral” continent by 2050, the Dutch horticultural industry is no exception in the energy transition. In the forefront of the world. It aims to achieve a fully sustainable and economically viable energy system with zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
  In order to achieve this, on the one hand, the horticultural sector is conducting a lot of peak research on topics such as greenhouse climate control and how to reduce winter consumption; on the other hand, the sector is actively deploying carbon dioxide capture and storage technologies while developing new green energy sources , develop geothermal energy and insist on focusing on sustainable development from the macro level. It is worth mentioning that it is already developing and utilizing geothermal energy and reusing industrial carbon dioxide emissions by “turning waste into treasure”.

  Taking the development of the flower industry as an example, the logistics link is the most critical aspect of flower circulation, running through the entire industrial chain of flower products from the place of origin to the consumer market. There is no doubt that logistics is an important support for the supply chain of agricultural products. The Netherlands has established several agricultural and food supply chain hubs in different locations, and is located in the transportation center of Europe, making it the best place to provide logistics services to markets in Europe and the rest of the world. center. In addition, the Netherlands has a well-developed cold chain industry with modern refrigeration and freezing technologies and high work efficiency, which can fully guarantee the transportation, storage and distribution services of high-quality agricultural products.
  For the above reasons, the Dutch horticultural cluster occupies an important position in the logistics of fresh produce. It works to create and deliver new network models, with a focus on supply chain collaboration and management, new industry networks, modes of transportation (beyond trucks), information technology, industry standards, and integrated logistics including returns and balances.
  Organic Sustainability Planting
  For plant growth, water, light and soil are indispensable. However, in the Netherlands, without soil, sunlight and pesticides, high-quality and high-yield crops can still be ensured. The main “secret” behind this is the leading smart greenhouse and technology of soilless cultivation. Currently, most greenhouses in the Netherlands are a complex ecosystem. Here, pests and diseases are biologically controlled where possible, rather than using chemical crop protection products. At present, the modern greenhouse has developed into a sustainable and closed ecological operating system.

  Smart technology: customised
  greenhouses Around the world, the Netherlands has built smart greenhouses and cultivation systems that combine sustainability with profitability. As we all know, high-performance, intelligent and profitable smart greenhouses are essential for modern agriculture. Thanks to clever software and sensors, crop growth, threat of disease outbreaks and water intake are all continuously monitored and recorded. This data provides growers with new and unique insights to optimize their crops.

  As a complement, new greenhouse concepts are also being developed to cope with multiple climate types. In addition, the Dutch horticultural sector maintains a leading position in the implementation of new greenhouse technologies such as water treatment, energy technology, big data applications and mechatronics. In addition to greenhouse technology, Dutch companies are also playing a leading role in the development of mechanized technologies for growing crops outdoors.
  Food Safety: Healthy, Safe, Tasty

  Food safety is an important issue closely related to public health, and it is also one of the social hot topics of common concern. Paying attention to safe diet is the key to ensuring the health of the whole people. The Dutch horticulture sector is committed to food safety and offers healthy, safe and tasty plant products at affordable prices. Based on hardy varieties and smart growing and processing methods, the sector is at the forefront of yield security throughout the horticultural production chain.
The Dutch model leading the world

  As a major agricultural country in the world, in addition to advanced agricultural technology, the Netherlands’ highly innovative agricultural development model is even more important. It adopts the “Golden Triangle” strategic cooperation model, that is, the government, scientific research institutions, and enterprises combine and rely on each other, and become a solid backing for industrial development. Under the “Golden Triangle” model, the three parties, starting from actual needs, communicate on an equal footing, seek problems together, and study solutions to problems. Whether it is the education and practice of science and technology in the horticultural industry, or the support of relevant policies, the Netherlands is laying a “good road” for the development of the horticultural industry.

  The Dutch horticulture industry works every day to find solutions to social challenges related to gardening, food and the green environment. In order to better meet the above challenges, entrepreneurs, education systems, research institutions, regional green ports and governments are working together to contribute to the global challenges facing mankind. As a production chain with multiple roles as breeder, greenhouse builder, vegetable grower and technology supplier, the horticultural industry has a large impact on food, energy and climate. While it helps solve the problem of world hunger, it also provides solutions for global climate change.
  Dutch companies and knowledge and research institutions have long been known worldwide for their innovation and technological excellence. With the cooperation of all parties, the above model has promoted the development of the entire Dutch horticultural industry cluster, and has also made the Netherlands the only choice for providing technical solutions to the challenges facing today’s society. Through efficient and scientific strategies and models, the Dutch horticultural industry strives to make the world a better place.
Shaping the future of world horticulture

Aad Verduijn interviewed

  On September 25, 2015, the United Nations officially adopted 17 global development goals at the summit, which will continue to guide the global development work from 2015 to 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to completely solve the development problems of the three dimensions of society, economy and environment in a comprehensive way from 2015 to 2030, and turn to the path of sustainable development.
  The Dutch horticulture industry is striving to approach and achieve these 17 global development goals, and it is also a blueprint for a better and more sustainable future for all. “In just five years, the Netherlands has achieved a lot,” says horticultural expert Hans Lightenberg.
  In addition to sustainable development, the pace of innovation in the Dutch horticulture industry has never stopped. As Dutch horticultural technologist Aad Verduijn once said, “We will never stop, we will continue to innovate.” By offering a range of innovative solutions, the Netherlands has responded well to the challenges facing the horticultural industry.
  Not only that, it will combine in-depth understanding of the horticultural industry with intelligent technology, through the “Golden Triangle” strategic cooperation, to jointly solve the global problems facing mankind. The Netherlands is shaping the future of world horticulture.