On the farm of farmer Jasper Roubos, Het Groene Hart, we work together to promote and demonstrate sustainability in practice and share our knowledge in this area with farmers, citizens, policymakers and other stakeholders. Jasper keeps a close eye on key production factors such as soil fertility, quality seed selection, and water management – in addition to smart weed, disease and pest control, optimum fertilization and proper handling and storage of the harvest. Crop rotation is of major importance at Het Groene Hart to ensure retained soil fertility. At harvest, wheat and straw are shredded and left in the field to improve the organic matter content of the soil. To create a good nutrient base fields are also fertilized with manure and cover crop are planted to contribute to the rich organic matter in the soil. To better control the soil runoff, natural margins have been set up as a buffer next to ditches or lagoons and perpendicular micro-dams act as anti-runoff barriers on inclined fields. As a result, the farm has experienced significantly less runoff issues, cleaner surface water and more efficient use of the rainwater.
Technology is progressing even faster with the evolution of communication networks and the availability of a wide range of new sensors, opening up new opportunities for farming. Respectively, Het Groene Hart participates in The Internet of Food and Farm 2020 (IOF 2020) project funded by the EU to develop systems integrating sensor technology, real-time data analysis like soil moisture, crop health, weather data, etc. to improve crop performance and farm efficiency.
Location: Abbenes, North Holland, The Netherlands
History: Founded around 1870. In 2002, the farm was relocated a few kilometers to its current location, because of the construction of the high-speed train track. In 2011, Jasper took over from his father Jan Roubos.
Crops: Winterwheat, potato, onion, sugarbeet
Soil: The clay soil has no stones, good drainage and is not very susceptible to drought, leading to high fertility and high yield potential.
Customers: Potatoes are grown for McCain, sugarbeets for Cosun and onions for various customers.
Zachtfruit Schalkwijk B.V. - The van Garderen Family Farm
The van Garderen family’s berry farm is situated on the island of Schalkwijk, surrounded by the water of the Amsterdam Rhine Canal and the Lek river, in a unique landscape that dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Founded in 1981, the family has grown the farm enterprise into a leading company in the fruit sector, with redcurrants and blackberries as the main crops grown on the farm. The van Garderen family grows berries on 35 hectares and also cools and packs over 12 million packages of fruit from its own cultivation and from third parties.
The van Garderen family is committed to operating in an environmentally-responsible way, especially considering the farm’s unique location. The farm maintains an apiary for bees to support pollination of the crops, helping to ensure a successful harvest. In addition to the apiary, the farm also features insect hotels to act as shelter and nesting sites for solitary bees and beneficial insects like earwigs and ladybugs. Digital tools like a drip-irrigation system that is controlled via tablet or smartphone are also present on the farm, helping to ensure efficient use of water. Decision support systems help to optimize crop protection in terms of timing based on crop growth and weather conditions. Biological, chemical and technological crop protection measures are combined to form an integrated cultivation system.
Location: Schalkwijk, municipality of Houten, near Utrecht.
History: Founded in 1981, the farming operation has now expanded to a second location, where the ForwardFarming activities are concentrated.
Crops: 30 hectares of redcurrants, 4 hectares of blackberries.
Soil: The farm grows berries on 35 hectares and also cools and packs over 12 million packages of fruit from its own cultivation and from third parties. The cooling capacity is over 550 metric tons.
Partners: ForwardFarming Fruit is a collaboration between Zachtfruit Schalkwijk B.V., CAF (Centrale Adviesdienst Fruitteelt), The Greenery and Bayer. This ForwardFarming initiative includes additional collaborations with various institutes and enterprises.