Five chrysanthemum substrate cultivation systems have been investigated by Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture. Cultivation on sand beds seems to offer best prospects for early application in practice. Follow-up research focuses on the possibilities of cultivation on water. This research is financed by Agency NL and the Ministry of EL & I (Economic Affairs, Agriculture & Innovation’.
Chrysanthemum is the largest soil-grown ornamental crop. To reduce the emission of crop protection products and nutrients to almost zero, Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture is investigating soil-less cultivation systems. Five systems have been tested during the past two years. These were, in order of increasing complexity: a deep soil bed, a sand bed, a peat bed, cassette beds, and a cassette box system. All aspects were included in the research, from pest and disease suppressiveness through to logistics and economic perspectives.
Wide technical possibilities
This research shows that chrysanthemums can be grown on other media than soil. Dry weight has been determined during five cultivation rounds with the variety ‘Euro White’. This says something about the photosynthesis the plant has been able to reach in the system and is a measure of the differences between the systems. The deep soil bed has been set at 100% because this does - from a cultivation-technical point - not differ from conventional cultivation. The sand bed then scores 4% higher in growth, the peat bed 13%, and the different systems on cassettes 26 to 34%. Profitability of the different systems has been studied as well. The most advanced systems were found to be most expensive with the longest cost recovery period.
Follow-up research will therefore focus on the sand bed as relatively simple and cheap solution. The peat bed is no option against the sustainability objectives and the cassette systems are facing many practical problems. The first preliminary experiments with systems without substrate seem to hold prospects but still show a lot of teething troubles. Work on the development of these systems will be continued as well.