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Dutch Greenhouse Industry - National Geographic

How on earth have the Dutch done it?

The Netherlands is a small, densely populated country, lacking almost every resource necessary for large-scale agriculture. Despite this, the small country of the Netherlands is the world’s number two exporter of food, second only to the United States, which is incomparable in size! In the September ‘17 edition of the magazine, National Geographic has published an article featuring the Dutch agriculture, livestock and greenhouse industry to answer the question “How on earth have the Dutch done it?”.

National Geographic has given great publicity to the agricultural sector of the Netherlands, which on its turn has created global interest for Dutch technology. During the survey National Geographic conducted for the September edition of the magazine, they have spoken to multiple growers, farmers, students and of course the companies and research institutes that play a role in the efficient food production of the Netherlands.

The question is in its simplest form answered by a carefully comprised infographic by the National Geographic staff titled Punching above its weight. By using the world’s most efficient agricultural technologies, the Netherlands is able to do far more with less. As an example the water footprint for the production of tomatoes is illustrated. In Dutch greenhouses, 1.1 gallon per pound is used, compared to a 25,6 global average. Doing more with less is even better illustrated in the efficiency of used cultivation space. Per square mile, the Dutch are able to produce a staggering 144,352 tons of harvested tomatoes, leaving the rest of the producing countries far, far behind. Going even one step further, these tomatoes are all biologically controlled, eliminating residues of pesticides on the vegetables.

National Geographic Greenhouse Industry Infographic
source: National Geographic Magazine, September '17 Edition


During the interviews in the Netherlands, the importance of applying this Dutch technology throughout the world is stressed. This demands effort from the entire supply chain, starting from phenotyping to get effective crop for different regions up to finding new ways to fend off pests in a natural way. Developing new ways to control the climate more precisely and improved irrigation systems which can dose minerals and use water even more efficiently definitely defines the Dutch way of greenhouse agriculture.

The Dutch have a scarcity of land and are lacking almost every resource that was thought to be necessary for large-scale agriculture. It is this lack of resources and not-so optimal climate conditions that has let the Dutch greenhouse industry grow into what it has become today. We take control over the climate by growing in a protected environment and by applying smart technology we can improve yields significantly on the same growing area. This however, does not mean we should apply the same level of technological advancement as we’ve done here in The Netherlands throughout the world. Its about applying the right technology for the right situation and using your resources in the most efficient way. National Geographic has illustrated perfectly how an underdog can punch above its weight and can turn its disadvantages into a competitive advantage.

With DutchGreenhouses® I’m proud to represent this modern day David & Goliath story.