Dirk Röse

An important play­er in the Ems­land eco­no­mic region

Minis­ter for Eco­no­mic Affairs Olaf Lies visits Klasmann-Deilmann

Olaf Lies, Lower Saxony’s Minis­ter for Eco­no­mic Affairs, Employ­ment and Trans­port, recent­ly visi­ted Klasmann-Deilmann in Gees­te. “We are deligh­ted to have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to pre­sent our com­pa­ny as repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of the Ems­land eco­no­mic regi­on,” said Moritz Böcking, Mana­ging Direc­tor at Klasmann-Deilmann. Minis­ter Lies was impres­sed by the firm’s efforts to deve­lop inno­va­ti­ve raw mate­ri­als and to use the­se as sub­sti­tu­tes for peat. “Gro­wing media are indis­pensable to modern hor­ti­cul­tu­re,” he affir­med. “They play a pivo­tal role in the value chain of the food indus­try. In see­king alter­na­ti­ves to peat and deve­lo­ping inno­va­ti­ve raw mate­ri­als, com­pa­nies such as Klasmann-Deilmann are lea­ding by example.”

The dis­cus­sions focu­sed on cut­ting-edge issu­es that will be of key impor­t­ance for the firm over the next 10 years. Sum­ming up, Moritz Böcking said, “The­re is a con­si­derable over­lap bet­ween Lower Saxony’s stand on major poli­cy issu­es and Klasmann-Deilmann’s inten­ti­ons. We both need to take advan­ta­ge of this to our mutu­al benefit.”

For examp­le, Klasmann-Deilmann has, along­side peat, for many years been incre­a­singly focu­sing on alter­na­ti­ve con­sti­tu­ents sui­ta­ble for gro­wing-media pro­duc­tion. The­re is, howe­ver, com­pe­ti­ti­on for the necessa­ry raw wood mate­ri­als and resi­du­al green was­te, which are being used more and more as an ener­gy source. “Whe­re scar­ce resour­ces are com­pe­ted for, this is to the detri­ment of sub­stra­te pro­du­cers and thus hin­ders the achie­ve­ment of the federal state’s poli­cy, name­ly to acce­le­ra­te the pha­sing out of peat extrac­tion and to call for alter­na­ti­ves,” Moritz Böcking com­men­ted. “In this respect, we need to see equal oppor­tu­nities for both bran­ches of indus­try in the future.” Olaf Lies added that the firm could count on the sta­te government’s support.

Fun­ding for rese­arch pro­jects to deve­lop new raw materials

At the same time, Klasmann-Deilmann is also loo­king into new ingre­dients for sub­stra­te manu­fac­tu­re. As part of the­se acti­vi­ties, the com­pa­ny laun­ched the world’s lar­gest Spha­gnum-far­ming pro­ject, which is part-fun­ded by the federal-sta­te government, in the autumn of 2015. “In the com­ing years, we will con­si­der­ab­ly expand our rese­arch and deve­lo­p­ment work and explo­re com­ple­te­ly new paths,” exp­lai­ned Moritz Böcking. “Suc­ces­ses that we achie­ve in this con­text may pro­ve cru­cial for com­mer­cial hor­ti­cul­tu­re world­wi­de, under­line the inno­va­ti­ve­ness of Lower Saxony’s eco­no­my and, indi­rect­ly, help achie­ve Germany’s envi­ron­men­tal and cli­ma­te pro­tec­tion objectives.”

A sup­port pro­gram­me is desi­ra­ble here that bene­fits the hor­ti­cul­tu­ral and sub­stra­te sec­tor, in which com­pa­nies are pre­do­mi­nant­ly small and medi­um-sized and not able to ful­ly fund exten­si­ve rese­arch pro­jects. Minis­ter Lies agreed to this idea in princip­le: “It’s important that, whe­re on the one hand we place limits on an indus­try in terms of raw-mate­ri­al extrac­tion, we should on the other hand also make alter­na­ti­ve opti­ons available.”

Moritz Böcking added: “Wit­hin this con­text, and in line with Lower Saxony’s cli­ma­te and natu­re con­ser­va­ti­on goals, a deba­te should be laun­ched to achie­ve grea­ter fle­xi­bi­li­ty in the after use of peat pro­duc­tion sites.” The com­mer­cial use of for­mer extrac­tion are­as for palu­di­cul­tu­re could pro­ve path-breaking.

Rene­wa­ble resour­ces depen­dent on land prices

Böcking also sees scope for poli­ti­cal action with regard to the Klasmann-Deilmann Group’s acti­vi­ties in the field of rene­wa­ble ener­gy and resour­ces. “The wood fuels that we obtain from short rota­ti­on fores­try plan­ta­ti­ons could make a signi­fi­cant con­tri­bu­ti­on to the suc­cess of the ener­gy tran­si­ti­on.” This is pre­clu­ded by the exces­si­ve pri­ces for agri­cul­tu­ral land in Ger­ma­ny, which pre­vent this busi­ness seg­ment expan­ding in an eco­no­mi­c­al­ly sound man­ner. In Böcking’s view, one way for­ward is to pro­mo­te more exten­si­ve uses of farm­land – such as short rota­ti­on fores­try – which would lead to a win-win situa­ti­on in terms of the envi­ron­ment, agri­cul­tu­re and com­pa­nies such as Klasmann-Deilmann.

Final­ly, Böcking thank­ed Minis­ter Lies for showing inte­rest in an indus­try that is not often the cent­re of public atten­ti­on. Lies expres­sed his gra­ti­tu­de to Böcking for a sti­mu­la­ting insi­de look at a medi­um-sized fami­ly busi­ness with “a clear visi­on of the future”, and is loo­king for­ward to “initia­ting smart pro­jects in coope­ra­ti­on with the Ministry’s Envi­ron­ment and Agri­cul­tu­re depart­ments. Com­pa­nies like Klasmann-Deilmann, who retain and crea­te good and secu­re jobs, deser­ve sup­port from the federal state.”