Can bulbs be grown in a 'substrate trunk'?

Published on
June 12, 2020

Many problems in bulb growing are related to the soil. So maybe it is time to develop a new cultivation system. For example, growing the bulbs in a long plastic trunk containing soil and drip irrigation? Within the Bollencoaster project, the Greenhouse Horticulture and Bulb Growing Business Unit of Wageningen University & Research is investigating whether such a system is feasible in the long term.

Growing bulbs in a trunk. It may sound absurd. But remember: not so long ago no tulip grower used a net to grow and harvest the bulbs. These nets are now commonplace, including the associated mechanization. Apparently, system innovations can find their way to practical companies. As long as they offer sufficient advantages compared to current practice.

Many cultivation problems bulb growers have to deal with are related to the soil. Years ago, research was done (in the project Teelt De Grond Uit) with the cultivation of bulbs in boxes and gutters, but that did not yet work in practice. It had insufficient benefits.

Perspectives for cultivation in a trunk

Cultivation in a trunk has more perspective. For example, the watering and fertilization can be controlled well and  crop rotation is no longer necessary. The system also offers solutions for water quality and soil-related diseases. In addition, less pesticides will be available for bulb cultivation. this system can offer an alternative.

WUR is currently investigating two new cultivation systems. One trunk has the shape of a water drop, and can be opened and closed at the top. In the other new cultivation system, a plastic tarp is placed in a trench. In both cases, the trunk contains substrate, bulbs and dripping hoses. Such cultivation systems would initially be used in smaller cultivations, or for the last cultivation year in unidirectional systems from tissue culture. Therefor the substrates will be tested: research is already underway with lily and hyacinth.

The project Bollencoaster is financed by KAVB product group Hyacinth, Greenport Duin en Bollenstreek, Agrifirm GMN, Oerlemans Plastics, Hoogheemraadschap Rijnland and Rabobank Bollenstreek.‚Äč