Organic farmers aren’t allowed to use artificial fertiliser, so how can they create fertile soil? Many of them use certified-organic fertiliser or manure from organic cows – preferably from a local cattle farmer, because that also keeps transport to a minimum.
All organic production companies are monitored by the Skal Institute which makes sure that the farmers follow all the rules. ‘What kind of rules?’, I hear you ask. Well, there are quite a lot. For example, all products have to be grown in soil – whether inside a greenhouse or outdoors. Besides that, the farmers have to rotate their crops every year in order to keep the soil fertile. And farmers can suffer problems due to pests and diseases, so the life of an organic farmer isn’t always a bed of roses. If a crop is affected by a disease, there is often little they can do because they’re not allowed to use chemicals. That’s why they take preventive measures in the production process, such as keeping the greenhouse well ventilated or choosing seeds that are less susceptible to diseases. If the crop is attacked by pests, the farmers often turn to mother nature; in other words, they use natural enemies to tackle the pests. Did you know that they sometimes even use ladybirds?
All of these rules mean that organic farmers are often at a greater risk of a failed harvest, which is why the price of organic produce is slightly higher.
These rules apply to all organic farmers in the Netherlands and the rest of the EU.
Get to know Sebastiaan Bos who is farming on land that he has received on loan from the municipality. Sebastiaan explains why he uses tunnels and how that sets him apart from other growers.
Besides organic farms, some farmers are involved in what’s known as biodynamic agriculture. These companies are often mixed farms which rear animals in addition to growing crops. As a result, they can use the manure from their animals to improve the fertility of their soil as the basis for healthy crop growth. The animals are often fed on rejected vegetables, which completes the cycle. This is often also referred to as a closed-loop system.
Get to know Rob van Paassen who grows biodynamic vegetables in greenhouses. Rob explains more about his biodynamic farm and why he chooses to grow different types of vegetables in the winter than in the summer.
Additionally, some biodynamic farmers have a stronger focus on the cosmic and spiritual aspect of food production. For example, some of them plan their seed sowing activities in line with the different moon phases.
Get to know David Luyendijk who grows biodynamic vegetables. He explains what makes his company so diverse and how he protects his crops against mole crickets. David’s aim is to ensure that consumers return home happier than before.