Dirk Röse

Spe­cia­lists from all over the world in vir­tu­al exchange

Klasmann-Deilmann hosts inter­na­tio­nal Inno­va­ti­on Summit

More inno­va­tions, less peat and always rene­wa­ble raw mate­ri­als. The Klasmann-Deilmann Group’s Inno­va­ti­on Sum­mit advan­ced tho­se issu­es that are at the top of the agen­da in Euro­pean com­mer­cial hor­ti­cul­tu­re. Guest spea­kers and audi­ence mem­bers were tun­ed in from around the world, strea­ming the vir­tu­al event from the spe­cial­ly set up broad­cast stu­dio in Klasmann-Deil­man­n’s Inno­va­ti­on Center.

For three days, several hund­red view­ers fol­lo­wed the Klasmann-Deilmann Inno­va­ti­on Sum­mit on screen, with up to 200 guests tun­ed in to the indi­vi­du­al ses­si­ons. Exter­nal and inter­nal experts dis­cus­sed the situa­ti­on of hor­ti­cul­tu­re in Ger­ma­ny, Euro­pe and the world and ven­tu­red a look into the future of the industry.

The talks focu­sed on the secu­re sup­ply of raw mate­ri­als for sub­stra­te pro­duc­tion. The initia­ti­ve laun­ched by the Ger­man government to redu­ce the use of peat in gro­wing media could have a Euro­pe-wide impact on the secu­ri­ty of sup­ply for healt­hy food. And so time and again the dis­cus­sions retur­ned to the ques­ti­on of whe­ther rene­wa­ble feed­stocks are avail­ab­le in suf­fi­ci­ent quan­ti­ties and to what extent they can replace peat in terms of qua­li­ty. The experts’ ans­wers were nuan­ced, as lar­ge quan­ti­ties of well-estab­lis­hed raw mate­ri­als have alrea­dy been used for years. In view of the growth of the indus­try and the still uni­que pro­per­ties of peat, all spea­kers nevertheless agreed that com­mer­cial hor­ti­cul­tu­re will not be able to do without this raw mate­ri­al for the time being.

The rea­son for the event was the Inter­na­tio­nal Plant Fair (IPM) 2021, which was can­cel­led due to coro­na. The Inno­va­ti­on Sum­mit pro­vi­ded a vir­tu­al plat­form to nevertheless give cus­to­mers, sales part­ners, asso­cia­ti­ons and many other inte­res­ted par­ties an insight into the latest deve­lo­p­ments in the indus­try at the start of the sea­son. In this con­text, Klasmann-Deilmann also pro­vi­ded infor­ma­ti­on about its own new pro­ducts. The focus was on the Grow­coon cul­ti­va­ti­on sys­tem, the Log&Solve inter­net plat­form and a ran­ge of new sub­stra­te mix­tures with a hig­her pro­por­ti­on of alter­na­ti­ve raw materials.

Mana­ging Direc­tor Moritz Böcking also announ­ced that Klasmann-Deilmann is expan­ding its own pro­duc­tion capa­ci­ties and will hence­forth also manu­fac­tu­re substrates in Chi­na, Japan, Aus­tra­lia and sou­thern Fran­ce. Only a few days ago, moreo­ver, the con­struc­tion of a sub­stra­te fac­to­ry in the port of Papen­burg from 2025 had been announced.

Prof. Dr. Bern­hard Beß­ler, head of the Hor­ti­cul­tu­re Divi­si­on at the Lower Sax­o­ny Cham­ber of Agri­cul­tu­re (LWK), pre­sen­ted his view of the oppor­tu­nities and chal­len­ges of peat reduc­tion and encou­ra­ged “not to think of limits right at the start of a journey.”

Dr. Hans-Joa­chim Brink­jans, depu­ty secreta­ry gene­ral at the Cen­tral Hor­ti­cul­tu­ral Asso­cia­ti­on (ZVG) refer­red, among other things, to the chal­len­ging situa­ti­on in com­mer­cial hor­ti­cul­tu­re, which is not only made more dif­fi­cult by the Coro­na cri­sis, but is also cha­rac­te­ri­zed at the same time by CO2 tax, the dis­cus­sion about peat reduc­tion, incre­a­sing restric­tions in plant pro­tec­tion, and rising cost and com­pe­ti­ti­ve pres­su­re. He cal­led for hor­ti­cul­tu­ral com­pa­nies, sup­pliers such as the sub­stra­te indus­try, asso­cia­ti­ons such as the ZVG and poli­ti­ci­ans to work even more clo­se­ly together.

Prof. Dr. Bri­an Jack­son from the Hor­ti­cul­tu­ral Substrates Labo­ra­to­ry at North Caro­li­na Sta­te Uni­ver­si­ty, USA, gave an impres­si­ve insight into the details of his rese­arch pro­jects on wood fibres and how they can be pro­ces­sed to get as clo­se as pos­si­ble to a genui­ne peat substitute.

Dr. Jean-Charles Michel, asso­cia­ted pro­fes­sor in gro­wing media and soil phy­sics at L’In­sti­tut Agro/Agrocampus Ouest in Fran­ce, repor­ted on his sci­en­ti­fic acti­vi­ties in the field of substrates and made it clear that in the end “ever­ything is a ques­ti­on of raw mate­ri­als” and that new solu­ti­ons must the­re­fo­re con­ti­nue to be rese­ar­ched at full speed.

Ren­ke zur Müh­len, who has run a renow­ned nur­s­e­ry in nor­thwes­tern Ger­ma­ny for deca­des, credi­ted the Coro­na pan­de­mic with the wel­co­me deve­lo­p­ment that hor­ti­cul­tu­re is being given a who­le new appre­cia­ti­on and that “our plants have been enn­o­bled by the crisis.”

Renee Snij­ders, co-foun­der of the inter­na­tio­nal NGO Eat­this from Cos­ta Rica, explo­red the ques­ti­on of how to feed huma­ni­ty without fur­ther har­ming the world and cli­ma­te. In her key­note speech, she empha­si­zed the impor­t­ance of good and healt­hy food and show­ed the con­tri­bu­ti­on that hor­ti­cul­tu­re and the sub­stra­te indus­try make the­re. “We need to rethink our beha­vi­or and chan­ge the way we grow fruit and vege­ta­bles so that we can sup­ply ever­yo­ne with good food in the future. Hor­ti­cul­tu­re has an important role to play in this.”

Klasmann-Deil­man­n’s dia­log part­ners were Mana­ging Direc­tors Moritz Böcking and Bernd Weh­ming, as well as Jack van Baten­burg (Inter­na­tio­nal Sales Coir), Fran­zis­ka Craay­van­ger (Pro­ject Mana­ger Grow­coon), Bert Des­met (Mana­ging Direc­tor Sales Asia Paci­fic), Kazi­mie­ras Kamins­kas (Mana­ging Direc­tor Pro­duc­tion Lit­hua­nia), Dr. Sebas­ti­an Kipp (Head of R&D), Her­mann Kon­ne­mann (R&D), Dr. Horst Kup­schus (Mana­ging Direc­tor Sales Euro­pe), Car­men Meck­len­burg (Head of Cor­po­ra­te Mar­ke­ting), Micha­el Per­schl (Mana­ging Direc­tor Pro­duc­tion Ger­ma­ny), Jens Thien (IT) and Co-Anne van Waaij (Sales Benelux).

The Inno­va­ti­on Sum­mit was a com­ple­te suc­cess,” sums up Moritz Böcking. „We brought tog­e­ther pro­ven experts from all over the world with our spe­cia­lists and offe­red ground­brea­king dis­cus­sion forums. Cus­to­mers, part­ners and many other par­ti­ci­pants from the com­mer­cial hor­ti­cul­tu­re sec­tor were given an in-depth look at the pre­sent and future of the indus­try. We will con­ti­nue to advan­ce the inter­na­tio­nal exchan­ge vir­tual­ly. At the same time, we all very much hope that we will soon be able to visit our cus­to­mers and part­ners again in person.”