In the FDOV programme of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs the SMART Horticulture project investigated the potentials of South Africa to produce more sustainable. Steered by Holland Horti International and in cooperation with TNO and BoP Innovation Centre Wageningen University & Research, BU Greenhouse Horticulture focussed on water saving and improving the greenhouse climate, while TNO focussed on the supply chain.
The principle of the adaptive greenhouse should be applied in this country: many different climate zones varying from cool and dry to hot and wet. In the Cape region water shortages are evident, in the east there is a large surplus on rainwater but nothing is used in soilless growing methods. Here dam water is in use, because it is cheap, but it is often infected with nematodes. In several regions WUR Greenhouse Horticulture trained growers and consultants to save water and to reuse it.
In some regions it is needed to heat in winter. Natural ventilated greenhouses save energy compared to mechanical ventilated greenhouses in the High-Tech market. Introduction of heating in these houses should increase the winter yield around 40%. In the Mid-Tech market the grower should focus on investments with a short return on investment such as a greenhouse with a fixed natural ventilation.
The project will be finished now, it made clear that South African growers are not yet familiar with all options to grow more productive and more sustainable in their local climate. Training should be part of the approach.