The Dutch Approach
The Dutch Approach refers to the rich history of The Netherlands in dealing with water safety, urban planning and local participation. Over the years The Dutch Approach has become a notable planning and management method extending far beyond water management. This approach has been put to the test in a broad range of industries and in military missions and has proven to be an effective method to successfully realize greenhouse projects around the world.
Greenhouse project development is based on these very principals; creating alliances, utilizing design and generating public support.
- Partnerships are created between different private companies, governments and knowledge institutes to meet the varying demands in the most efficient manner.
- The standardized greenhouse designs are used as tool for growth, research and decision making.
- By involving the local population, a Dutch greenhouse can leave behind a heritage of agricultural knowledge, technological improvement and economical well-being.
The choice of crop is a crucial factor for the economical feasibility and success of a commercial greenhouse operation. The revenue of cultivated crop is responsible for returning on the investment of the greenhouse and its operational costs. Crop varieties, suitable for greenhouse cultivation, therefore differentiate themselves from open-field varieties.
In greenhouse cultivation, crops are categorized into Vegetables, Flowers, Potted plants, Herbs & Leafy Greens and in Soft Fruits. This categorization is based on the crop characteristics but also on the applied cultivation method.
Tomato is the single most popular crop to be cultivated in greenhouses and comes in numerous varieties. Choices between truss- cocktail- and cherry tomatoes can be made to target niche markets. The same applies for all ornamental crops, where the variety is the result of decades of selective breeding.
Greenhouses are historically based on customized designs for each project. The sizes of the greenhouses have always been limited to the allocation of parcels in The Netherlands. Over the years, this has resulted in greenhouses in all shapes and sizes without a Dutch standard.
However, after years of contemplation, engineering and consolidation, standards have now been created. These greenhouse standards are used as a tool for growth, research and decision making.
The pre-designed greenhouses provide growers and investors with information they need, when they need it. By knowing what to grow and where to grow it, the best economics for a greenhouse operation can be determined. With all information at hand from the very beginning, the customers’ best interests are served.
The world is home to many different climates and all sorts of weather. Entire civilizations are characterized by the climates they have been dealing with for centuries. It is the reason why agriculture is such a diverse field of practice and why its form varies from region to region.
Greenhouse technology gives us the tools to cultivate desired crops regardless of the outside factors. To provide the plants inside with the conditions that they need to thrive in, we create an internal climate. This enables us to grow what we want, where we want.
In most cases, however, the greenhouse has to be a profitable endeavor. Applying technology to the greenhouse comes at a cost of investment and often also at a cost of operation. Every investment must be returned by the sales of produce. Therefore, the consideration of market prices is of equal importance as the climatic location in which the greenhouse is to be built in.
Invest too much and you may not be able to sleep at night; invest too little and you may not be able to reach your production goals. Balancing the technological solution against the income generated by the greenhouse makes or breaks a greenhouse operation. Though many technological solutions are available, the solutions might not always be appropriate.
In greenhouse economics, the factors of what-, how- and where to grow come together. This with the aim to return on investment quickly and to create a successful business for the long term. Tapping into market demands by crop selection, doing it on a scale which anticipates on growth and also keeping production costs as low as possible.
The largest operational costs of a greenhouse are energy, human resources and of course natural recourses. Operational requirements are defined well in advance of each given greenhouse project. With this approach, an investigation of local costs and market prices gives us a good insight in the potential of the greenhouse. This way, we take advantage of the local situation, creating a competitive advantage.
Creating partnerships and intensively working together is the key to the development of Dutch greenhouses around the world. Working together with the right partners for each specific project means continuously strengthening each other. These intensive collaborations have made Dutch greenhouses that what they are today.
Selecting the best partners for each situation makes each project more efficient. The majority of the mechanical installations are sourced from Dutch producers, ensuring the highest quality standard available. However, large essential elements of the greenhouse can, if desired by customers, be sourced from a local partner rather than being imported from The Netherlands. Creating a perfect synergy between all elements is the essence of the Dutch greenhouse manufacturers.
An efficient workflow defines the Dutch greenhouse construction industry. This is the case for the process of engineering, procurement and especially the construction of the greenhouse. Greenhouses are designed to be assembled easily and quickly. A greenhouse however, is of great value and the consequences of error and success are considerably large.
The greenhouse construction is therefore handled under strict supervision by a professional supervisor. Supervisors are experienced Dutch greenhouse builders who accompany local subcontractors on each step of the assembling process. With clear instruction manuals and videos, the right equipment and a number of local construction companies, a greenhouse is relatively easily and quickly constructed.
Education plays a fundamental part in the success of a greenhouse operation. Personnel is one of the largest operational expenditures, education of the personnel should therefore not be taken lightly. Providing the staff with a proper training before they commence, helps to reduce accidental damages to crops, spot potential diseases and increases the workflow.
Empowering the greenhouse personnel not only with the right tools but also with the right training makes that the tasks at hand can be performed well and in time. A special course is developed to train a selected group of people to become the managers of the greenhouse which at their turn educate the other staff. This educational program in The Netherlands provides them with hands on experience and with the reasoning why certain tasks need to be performed at a certain time in a certain way.