Open Field Culture

Dutch seed material for open cultivation used around the world

A large share of seed material for the cultivation of crops such as potato, cabbage, carrot and onion has its origins in the Netherlands. Achieving high yields requires seed with maximum germination capacity and growth vigour and characteristics that suit the region. Another focal point is ensuring that the seed stays healthy.

And there is more. Together with other parties such as research institutes and universities, the suppliers of the seed material also provide knowledge on keeping the crops healthy after it has been sown. Examples include programmes in East Africa, Indonesia and Egypt aimed at ensuring that healthy seed develops into healthy crops with a high yields.

The Netherlands: Land of potatoes

The potato is a profitable crop in (sub-) tropical countries. It has higher yields and is more nutritious than white rice. Despite this, production levels remain very low. Farmers, governments and plant breeding companies are insufficiently informed about the complex cultivation process. The Netherlands aims to change that.

Potatoes do very well in the tropics. Better than elsewhere, in fact: After all, they originated in the highlands of Peru. Many tropical countries have cooler climates offering up to three harvests a year.

The Netherlands is the major producer of seed potatoes, as well as the largest seed potato exporter worldwide. Two thirds of the Dutch seed potato production is exported to some 70
countries. Many new potato varieties are developed in the Netherlands by private breeding companies, and cultivated around the world. The Netherlands offers a wealth of fundamental knowledge on the potato in terms of genetics and systems for pests and disease control. There is also considerable expertise available on growing, storing and processing of potatoes. Companies in the Netherlands process nearly 3.5 million tons of potatoes each year, of which over 50% is exported. The largest potato starch producer in the world also has its head office in the Netherlands.

Healthier than rice

Potato cultivation offers many benefits to farmers and the wider population. Potatoes are healthier than rice as they also contain protein, fibre and vitamin C in addition to starch. In tropical areas, potatoes are currently mainly eaten by growers and their families, with only a small part traded and able to reach the population in cities. This is unfortunate as there is considerable demand for potato. A growing and increasingly affluent middle class likes to eat crisps and French fries. Hotels, too, need to provide for this demand. As a consequence, potatoes are imported at high cost. Growers could therefore get high prices for potatoes that are especially suitable for processing into crisps and fries.

Growing vegetables on the top of the soil

open field cultureNo longer growing crops in the soil but on top of it. This is the essence of revolutionary new outdoor cropping systems for a number of vegetable crops different organizations within the Netherlands are working on. Outdoor cultivation of crops on top of the soil seems to be a solution for a number of vegetable crops such as leek, cabbage, leafy crops and strawberry. Yield and quality increase whereas nutrient losses show a considerable decrease. The cultivation on top of the soil helps growers to meet the strict requirements of their clients: uniform and high quality products throughout the season. These requirements are difficult to meet with current cultivation systems. This innovative cultivation system prevents soil-borne diseases and improves labour conditions.