Huverba – sustainable operations
Huverba finds opportunities. We are literally contributing to the green world.
That requires sustainable investment in our employees’ knowledge and technological skills.
It is a dynamic rather than a static process. Everything starts with a resilient crop, with a strategic choice of the growing medium, starting material and growing conditions. Our modern cultivation floors help prevent mould and minimise waste of excess water.
Less energy and raw materials are wasted by maintaining a carefully planned greenhouse climate.
Parasites and attackers of our greens are everywhere, just like in other greenhouses.
If a pest threatens our crops, we choose a broad, integrated strategy. We deploy a range of natural enemies to suppress parasites. The knowledge behind this is really fascinating:
The history of active biological control began with predatory mites,
small, animal-parasitic spiders with a specific menu. Huverba deploys three species of predatory mites against the two most numerous attackers:
Trips is a flying, highly mobile, very common and hard to reach insect. It crawls into the buds and youngest plant parts and punctures cells there. The damage from stretching cells this way is enormous. In addition, trips transmit viruses. Against this pest, we deploy the predatory mite Amblyseiulus cucumeris.
White fly occurs only occasionally in Huverba’s crops. When we find this insect, we deploy the parasitic wasp that has white fly on its menu.
The vine weevil is a difficult to control, mobile insect. Its larvae are hidden in the ground. However, it is possible to reach them biologically. We do not fill our syringe with chemicals, but with tiny nematodes instead. These find their own way into the soil and kill the beetle larvae.
Spider mites are small, plant-parasitic spiders that are very common. They puncture thousands of cells on the underside of the leaf and can ruin plants with lightning speed.
We control spider mites with two species of predatory mites:
Phytoseiulus Persimilis: fast, active hunters that persist to the very end, including devouring conspecifics
Neoseiulus Californicus: less nervous stayers with longer life span and survival. We also found this predatory mite in starting material from suppliers: a chain-wide approach!
We are all familiar with aphids.
Ladybugs and their larvae eat aphids, we all know that. However, in our gardens we also find parasitic wasps, a small black ‘fly’ that curiously lays eggs in their host. Ladybugs are difficult to deploy, but parasitic wasps are excellent. Because each parasitic wasp needs a specific host, Huverba deploys a mix of parasitic wasps against a mix of aphids.
Another very common pest are caterpillars. To take that pressure off, we place pheromone traps, an adhesive layer containing the sexual lures of a moth. The males descend on it but become entangled in the adhesive layer. We are currently rolling out this ‘army’ against the ‘carnation leaf roller’ and Duponchelia. Each species has different lures and requires different pheromone traps. We are continuously learning about new options.
MPS-ABC is more than a certificate. In fact, it is a monitoring tool that allows companies to push the right buttons to reduce their environmental impact. Recording consumption measures the sustainability level of a company’s production. This leads to a more conscious use of resources. Growers can use the data to further improve the sustainability of their business.
In practice, we record all use of crop protection agents, consumption of water, energy and fertilisers. This is monitored accurately for each production unit to enable conclusions to be drawn and improvements implemented. Just by keeping track and recording everything, we create more awareness, enabling us to compare our environmental performance with that of fellow producers. This gives rise to new goals and improvements each year. MPS monitors, reports and provides recommendations and requirements for the next growing season. The world is bigger than our business and that’s what we do it for!
Next step. We are also on the way to Planet Proof. This is an independent certification that proves you are buying a product that has been produced more sustainably, making it a better choice for nature, climate and animals, with a view to the capacity of our planet.
Step by step, we are trying to reduce the impact and increase the sustainability of the Earth. We do not have this seal of approval yet, but our production methods are increasingly focused on plant health and plant resilience based on the circular approach on our farm. Reuse of raw materials, dead plant material, and cultivation support tools are examples. Our production methods are now much more geared towards organic methods. Artificial fertiliser is used only to correct. Farmyard manure and compost are the basis of our newly planted plots. In the second growth year, we apply a slow-release organic-mineral fertiliser. This helps us achieve continuous growth without growth stagnation or growth spikes. The fertiliser contains 36% organic matter. This makes the soil life twice as active compared to traditional fertilisation. A better balance in the soil reduces disease in the trees. Continuous, even growth, less leaching, better soil life, fewer diseases and infestations are the result.
Reduction of water consumption based on closed systems in both greenhouses and container fields. We also have drip irrigation (on solar energy!) on all our sand plots, allowing efficient water use, and minimising use of fertilisers. Regulation of watering is controlled by moisture sensors that then trigger the solar panel-controlled pump. This ensures that the trees receive exactly the right amount of moisture they need for optimal growth under changing conditions.
All the roofs of our production halls on the sunny side were equipped with solar panels in 2022 to provide our electric power. Currently to provide a regular power supply and during next year also for our internal logistics (electric forklifts, tools). It involves 300 panels capable of generating an annual output of 100,000 kw.
Use of organic fertilisers (farmyard manure, compost, organic fertiliser), slow release, improving soil life and ensuring even growth, requiring fewer chemical growth adjustments. Combined with a sophisticated grass and weed mixture, these sheep create a small circle to prepare our soil for planting. We save mowing costs (hours, diesel) and no organic material is lost. The conversion is perfect. Moreover, this enables sustainable collaboration!
Reduction of fuel consumption by an internal route planning system (app on iPads)
Whether it’s the loading cranes, the pickup crews, the order pickers or the clod teams, they all work with an internal logistics compass. All work is logically categorised and shown on our iPads. As a result, internal routes are also logical in terms of time and organisation. This saves both fuel and material due to less wear and tear. The environmental impact is reduced. But even that is never enough and there is always room for improvement. As a trading company, you are also responsible for the routing of our suppliers. Lean and green is our slogan!
In summary, we are making our crops and operations highly sustainable by:
- Avoiding the need for crop protection products through deploying natural enemies, organic cultivation in our greenhouses
- Recycling of all organic waste from our container crops and tree nurseries
- Reduction of the use of crop protection products through ultra low volume spraying techniques and deployment of biological enemies
- Use of organic fertilisers (farmyard manure, compost, organic fertiliser), slow release, improving soil life and ensuring even growth, requiring fewer chemical growth adjustments.
- Reduction of fuel consumption and environmental impact through an internal route planning system (app on iPads) and the Lean and Green management of our suppliers
- Reduction of water consumption based on closed systems in both greenhouses and container fields. We also have drip irrigation (on solar energy!) on all our sand plots, allowing efficient water use, and minimising use of fertilisers.
All the roofs on our production halls were equipped with solar panels in 2022 to cover our electric power needs. Currently to provide a regular power supply and during next year also for our internal logistics (electric forklifts, tools).