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Crop protection

A lot is possible without chemistry, but it is impossible without it

De Kemp tries to focus as much as possible on a sustainable cultivation method with resilient crops.

Propagation company De Kemp in Meterik, North Limburg, does everything it can to grow disease-free starting material. A ‘preparatory year’ with Tagetes or Japanese oats has become standard, with plenty of work being done with compost, rock flour and a variety of trace elements. “We strive for sustainable and resilient cultivation with the cleanest possible start,” Martin de Klein, responsible for crop protection and fertilization, explains the company’s course in Bayer’s Strawberry Courier.
De Kemp tries to focus as much as possible on a sustainable cultivation method with resilient crops

It is mid-May and the sun has barely made an appearance for a few weeks. And the temperature has not risen above 15 degrees for days. “No, things are not going so fast on the field and in the greenhouse. I think we are a week or two behind in growth. But oh well, with a bit of nice weather that will soon be overtaken,” says Martin de Klein, while discussing the start of the season with advisor Henk Ritter van Mertens.

Ritter also sees no adverse effects of the slow start. “We should not compare everything with previous years. It was very dry then, but now we are fairly close to normal.”

According to both men, there is still little to worry about with regard to diseases and pests. “The only concern we now have is the wind damage caused by the flapping of the foil,” says De Klein. “That can be an entry point for diseases. In the coming days, it is therefore especially important to pay attention and work under conditions that are as dry as possible.”

Focusing on resilient crops

De Kemp tries to focus as much as possible on a sustainable cultivation method with resilient crops. For example, about 50 hectares of land are prepared annually for propagation cultivation in the following year. In that ‘preparatory year’, the soil receives maximum attention.

In addition to a sophisticated fertilization with organic manure, compost and rock flour, Tagetes or Japanese oats are also sown to keep nematodes (P. Penetrans) under control. According to De Klein, these preparations increasingly pay for themselves in propagation crops. “We notice that our crops are stronger, more resistant to diseases and pests. This means that we can step back in the use of chemistry step by step. That is not a goal in itself for us, but it is a way to be prepared for a future with increasingly less chemicals.”

De Klein says he learns a lot from organic cultivation, which is becoming an increasingly important part of the company. “We are therefore even more aware of the soil than before. On the one hand, that is very unruly matter, but at the same time also a very nice challenge!”

PGR study containerized tomatoes

Starting with the cleanest possible starting material also has high priority within the company. De Klein explains that about 50 plants of all 15 cultivated strawberry varieties are selected and grown and further propagated as pre-basic material in aphid-free greenhouses. This produces about 20,000 ‘spotless’ plants per variety.

“Chemistry still badly needed”

Although, according to De Klein, ‘a lot can already be done without chemistry’, he emphasizes that conventional propagation cultivation cannot yet do without chemistry. This is partly due to the variety range – in which characteristics such as production and quality (for the time being) carry more weight than resistance to diseases and pests. Another factor is that in conventional cultivation, higher demands are made on starting material. While ‘a few percent’ loss is still acceptable in organic planting material, the conventionally produced plants must be 100% good, Martin knows.

A disease for which chemical agents are still very much needed is Phytophthora. “Together with powdery mildew and spider mite, Phytophthora is one of the most important diseases in the cultivation and propagation of strawberries. Only powdery mildew and spider mites can usually be tackled with the current range of products, while the control of late blight has become increasingly difficult in recent years. sensitive varieties such as Malling Centenary, Malling Allure, Polka and Sonata, it is difficult to keep the fungus under sufficient control”, advisor Ritter explains the current situation.

For more information:

Stefan van Heist
Bayer Crop Science


Crop protection

Greenhouse ginger has a stronger flavor than imported ginger

In Belgium, CRU is now offering prime fresh ginger on its markets. It is grown locally and sustainably. It is also cultivated pesticide-free and with a minimum of organic fertilizers. The ginger has a stronger flavor than imported ginger.

Also, its carbon footprint is kept as low as possible. This prime ginger is the result of sustainable innovation. Colruyt Group initiated that in cooperation with the REO cooperative and the Provincial Experimental Centre for Vegetable Production.


As a retailer, the Colruyt Group is becoming increasingly aware of food’s impact on people’s health and the planet. It is constantly working on making its products more sustainable. Then its customers can deliberately make sustainable choices.

In this context, Colruyt Group and its collaborators launched this pilot project to grow fresh prime ginger in Belgium. This is a project of the Colruyt Group’s food innovation team for CRU. The ginger’s environmental footprint is reduced thanks to its local, sustainable cultivation.


Local, sustainable farming
This ginger is grown in a greenhouse at the Provincial Vegetable Research Center. Two REO cooperative growers also cultivate it under a non-heated plastic tunnel and greenhouse, also non-heated. The ginger was planted in mid-May and is harvested in the fall.


The growers used a minimal amount of organic fertilizer and no pesticides during cultivation. Growing locally reduces CO2 emissions, as shorter trips are needed to get the product to end-users. This ginger goes from the field to Belgian plates. This product usually comes from Asia and South America, increasing its carbon footprint.


Fresh, top-quality ginger
The Belgian is harvested when the plant’s foliage is still green, so it has no chance to harden or form a skin. That gives the ginger a distinct aroma and flavor. It is very juicy with no fiber and is fresher than the imported versions.

These tubers are uprooted and washed and can be eaten right away. This top-quality ginger has a limited shelf life. This pilot project’s first crop has both good quality and yield – so it was a success. Scaling it up and further sustainability is, therefore, being evaluated.


Exclusive to CRU
People can now buy this high-quality Belgian ginger for a short while at CRU’s three fresh markets in the country. Then it’s back to waiting for the next harvest. So, CRU clients are the first to get the opportunity to taste this local product.


Ginger is very trendy. Because it is so healthy, more and more people are using this root. It is also ideal for flavoring dishes, in fresh but also in syrup or powder form. Taste and user tests have already confirmed that this Belgian ginger outshines the usual product from Brazil, Peru, and China. The Colruyt Group is therefore proud to market this locally-grown, tasty, ultra-fresh product.


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Crop protection

New research greenhouse for natural crop protection developer

Thorben, in the foreground, at the new facility

Valto received the keys to a greenhouse with 17 departments on the Hoefweg in De Lier, with which director Thorben Looije is taking the next step in his growth ambition.

Valto is a Dutch family business specialising in natural crop protection products. Their best-known product, V10, protects tomato plants against the highly damaging pepino mosaic virus. The research into new, natural crop protection products has so far been done at various locations.

After the imminent modifications to the new greenhouse complex, Valto’s researchers will be able to carry out larger tests on several crops and all in one place, close to the family business’s office at Leehove.

The new research facility fits in with the growth plans of the company, which develops and supplies biocontrol agents. “We believe in the power of nature,” Thorben Looije says. “We develop natural crop protection products to make crops resilient to plant diseases. This is a perfect fit within the goals of a greener Europe, but also those of growers, who also attach importance to health, sustainability and the environment.”

Natural protection
The government uses Green Deals to encourage companies to reduce their impact on the environment. For greenhouse horticulture and agriculture, this means using more natural crop protection. Valto wants to respond to this need by conducting more research and tests and developing new biocontrol agents. The new greenhouse will make this possible in the future.

Innovation in legislation
According to Thorben, a condition for innovation is that legislation innovates too: “Our customers want a healthy harvest and good returns. They ask us to help them prevent diseases in their crops. We are happy to do that with the help of nature, but then the legislation has to be adapted. The approval procedure for natural crop protection products now takes about 8 to 10 years. Fortunately, more and more people in The Hague and Brussels are realizing that legislation must grow along with us if we want to meet the European goals.”

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Crop protection

Innovative strategies for biological control

Year after year, the number of crop protection and chemical products that can be employed to counter pathogens and harmful insects in agriculture gets smaller and smaller. Within that scenario and with the aim of achieving a more sustainable management of resources in line with the objectives of Agenda 2030, biological control using useful predators is the only solution.

It is with this purpose in mind that Agri Impo Tech was established in 2019 as an offshoot of Agri Impol in Battipaglia (Salerno), which boasts thirty years of experience in the preparation of pollination programs using bees and bumblebees.

“What is new in the world of biological control is the possibility of feeding mites and useful insects right after they are introduced. This way, they can develop before the attack of harmful insects. This strategy means useful insects can be launched even if their counterparts are not present yet. Nutrimite, distributed by Agri Impol Tech, has led to excellent results,” reports Antonio Rago, owner of Agri Impol and Agri Impol Tech.

For the past 30 years, Antonio Rago and his company have worked to make agriculture as sustainable as possible developing strategies with a low environmental impact. Agri Impol and Biobest have in fact signed an agreement for the sale and distribution of hives of Flying Doctor bumblebees and of all insects useful for biological control.

“Tuta Trap is a pheromone trap that attracts Tuta absoluta adult males. It can be used to monitor and mass capture parasite lepidoptera. Capturing males, in fact, noticeably reduces infestations dropping them to an acceptable level. 15/20 traps per hectare are needed in greenhouses and 15/25 per hectare in open fields. These can also be combined with color insect traps for monitoring and mass capturing.”

Another objective for the company is making producers understand the importance of pollination, which represents a crucial phase for setting and, therefore, for production.

“Nature alone is not enough to meet pollination needs, this is why we suggest introducing bees and bumblebees during blossoming. We are basically talking about buzz-pollination (especially for tomatoes) carried out by bumblebees, who are more stationary than bees and able to work at lower temperatures and in less-ideal weather (wind and rain). Bees are more suitable for late blossoming.”

“Apipol box has become available this year, i.e a hive containing two bee colonies. It was developed to favor entomophilous pollination in open-field crops and we will showcase it during Macfrut.”

“We will welcome you at Macfrut, stand 111, hall B5 to present our new company established in 2019 – Agri Impol Tech.”

Do you wish to create a pollination program perfect for you or get to know biological control options? The company will welcome you at Macfrut on September 7-9, 2021.

For further information:
Agri Impol s.r.l.
via Milano
84090 Montecorvino Pugliano (SA) -Italy
+39 0828 53744
+39 0828 507182

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