How the Netherlands, a country known for these tulips, has become a major tomato producer and the leading exporter of onions and potatoes?
With more than half of its land used for agriculture, the Netherlands is a pioneer in greenhouse horticulture.
Dutch farmers are experimenting with innovative ways to produce more food with fewer resources – methods that are increasingly relevant as climate change and drought and flood cycles wreak havoc in traditional agriculture worldwide.
The Dutch landscape is home to greenhouse sections that minimize the use of gas, electricity, and water as well as greenhouse gas emissions while maximizing the use of sunlight and nutrient recycling. Other innovations include the green building of infrastructure: building materials, lighting and heating and cooling systems.
But not all strategies are high tech. Some draw the power of nature.
Many producers have turned to so-called “bio-control” to protect their crops, using insects, mites and worms to feed on pests, to reduce the use of pesticides.
With 80% of its land cultivated under glass, the Westland region is the greenhouses capital of the Netherlands. Most Dutch farms are still family-based and remain competitive by employing automated temperature control systems and energy-efficient LED lighting to extend growing seasons throughout the year.
Advanced technology also powers the flower market. The highly automated 24-hour packaging plants and freight terminals at the Port of Rotterdam help to keep the Netherlands as the world’s second-largest exporter of food products (in value terms) behind the United States.
Today, the country has added knowledge and technology to its long list of exports. Government, universities, research institutes and private farmers are involved in food systems projects around the world. This export of knowledge also occurs on Dutch soil – on university campuses where thousands of international students graduate to solve food security problems in their home countries.