JPM (Jim) van Ruijven MSc

JPM (Jim) van Ruijven MSc

Team leader Rootzone dynamics & Researcher water technology in greenhouse horticulture

As a son of a commercial lily grower from Westland I am closely connected to the horticultural sector. In my function as researcher water and emission at the Business Unit Greenhouse Horticulture I use my passion for nature and nature conservation as a driving force to increase sustainability of this sector. I apply the knowledge I collected during my education in Industrial Ecology at Delft University of Technology and Leiden University to close material cycles at the company scale or a larger area. A technical solution is only a solution if it is cost-effective for growers, but at the same time has a margin for horticultural technology suppliers.

A nice example is the project on zero-emission growing, in which growers are capable of keeping constant high quality recirculation water, so that discharge (and connected costs for obligatory purification of this discharge water) can be avoided. This zero emission cultivation strategy makes use of commercially available technology and applies it in a smart way. Next to that, it is also my responsibility to develop purification equipment for the removal of plant protection products together with the technology suppliers. In that process together we think about the smartest way to implement these technologies, for example by combining purification of discharge water with disinfection of recirculation water. Another example is development of a mobile installation, that can be rented by growers from contractors to purify their discharge water.

Dutch greenhouse horticulture is using water very efficiently: emission of nutrients and plant protection products is prevented by a combination of treatment of discharge water for the removal of plant protection products and more and more growers start to apply zero discharge cultivation methods. Next to that, the available water is used more efficiently, decreasing the need for water from sources additional to rain water. In an interview with BNR Nieuwsradio's Techniektour I explain how Dutch growers do this.

Dutch growers advance quickly in reaching a zero-emission cultivation en try to solve the lost technical hurdles. In the video below I discuss this matter together with Erwin van Vliet of Levoplant on what they have already done, what technical difficulties they still face and what they need to reach a zero-emission cultivation. 

Within these efficient cultivation systems, growers have to deal with infestation of the underground cultivation system with diseases. An important development in this area is building robust microbial ecosystems, so that diseases do not get a chance to infect the crop. The new team Rootzone dynamics is working on the development of methods, technologies and strategies to manage and control these microbial populations and to use them to prevent disease infestation and optimisation of cultivation.