Opened in March this year, the world-first facility is located in Westland, on The Netherlands coast, which at 4500ha is the largest greenhouse production area in the world, with 670 horticultural companies
The centre brings the whole greenhouse horticultural sector of The Netherlands under a single roof, through a joint partnership of education, research, business and government.
In an exclusive tour given to The Weekly Times last month, the local government minister responsible for horticulture and economic affairs, Karin Zwinkels, said the multi-million Euro facility was critical to the future of horticulture.
“The connection between all these sectors is urgent,” Karin said.
“It’s urgent because jobs for the future are quickly changing and we want to be prepared, in terms of innovation, technology, sustainability and providing food security.
“In December for instance we’re holding HortiHeroes, an incubator and talent program for young start-ups who can pitch their ideas.”
World Horti Center encompasses three levels, where the work of researchers, about 100 industry companies, several Dutch universities including 1300 students and government all combine.
The ground level of the centre features a 6500sq m research facility with a series of secure “docks” operated by companies, with project descriptions posted on doors.
One door’s description reads “crop protection in open fields”, another “control of mildew on cucumbers and tomatoes”, while others examine impacts of white fly, effects of fertilisation and one focuses on a new variety, the tomberry (a berry-size tomato marketed as a snack food like chips).
Each dock can simulate climate conditions in any country of the world, regulated from a central control room.
In another section of the ground level, products featuring state of the art horticultural technology and innovation from about 100 companies are showcased.
A company called QWestland has invented LED lights that also produce air.