Sustainable greenhouse projects

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KUBO Logistics

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That the horticultural economy is on the rise is not going unnoticed. Now that investment in new buildings is taking place in the Netherlands, we at KUBO are also preparing for further growth.

For this reason, we are separating our production and logistics operations. As it stands now, these two operations are concentrated in the KUBO branch at Vlotlaan in Monster. Not ideal, because production needs more space. So we have bought an existing building in the business park in Monster. It is already in operation as a distribution centre. This decision has given us room for further investment in new production resources for the coming years.

“Every innovation leads to the next”

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How do you grow 365 days a year where the market is? Casey Houweling told us how on Skype. Over a period of ten years, he built 20 hectares of greenhouses in British Columbia, Canada. Because he was unable (then) to grow all the year round, he expanded his business with a further 50 hectares in California. It was there that he and KUBO pioneered the Ultra-Clima greenhouse concept – a greenhouse that was not just the answer to plagues of insects but also opened the door to the hostile growing climate of Utah. Now, with an 11 hectare water and energy-efficient greenhouse, he serves the Salt Lake City area ‘local-for-local’. A story of 31 years of continuous innovation, with KUBO.

“In 1985, I visited Holland to speak to all sorts of growers and to hear how they worked and with whom. It might be nice to mention that my father was an immigrant from the Netherlands who came to Canada in 1956 to grow flowers. If you want the most up-to-date know-how on market gardening, you really have to be in the Netherlands. That’s how we got in contact with KUBO. We had a good feeling about them straight away and that turned out to be justified. Since then, they’ve built greenhouses for us at 20 locations and we’re still looking at what might be done better. So I’m actually a field lab for innovation.”

The eleventh plague
“Our collaboration started at the end of the eighties when we were inundated with whitefly in California. It was so bad that we called it the ‘eleventh plague’. It meant that we had to fit screens in the ventilation windows of the greenhouses but I didn’t like the idea. Screens filter out 15% of the light and that costs you 15% of the production. They also get dirty and have to be cleaned, and they reduce ventilation. So I wanted to work with KUBO on a way of keeping insects out without any of the disadvantages. That was the start of what we now call the Ultra-Clima concept. In this, we work with an active, controlled ventilation system that uses only 4% of the screens that are usually used in a standard greenhouse. Positive pressure in the greenhouse also ensures that insects cannot fly inside through an open door. The active ventilation also enabled us to regulate the humidity in the greenhouse with cooling pads. In 2006, KUBO built the first prototype and after that every innovation led to the next. Now, all my greenhouses are Ultra-Clima and I can grow everywhere 365 days a year.”

The future of market gardening
“The great thing about the Ultra-Clima technology is that you can overcome every climate with minimal energy costs and water consumption. This means that I can continue growing even in the Californian summer, which was impossible before owing to the temperature, strong winds and 10% humidity. But what was even better is that I was able to expand into the hostile growing climate in Utah. There’s an excellent market there with Salt Lake City, and it fits the social need for ‘local-for-local’. There was a natural gas power plant a hundred kilometres to the south that produces two sorts of waste: residual heat and CO2. And I need both of those for growing. So I moved close to the power plant with 11.5 hectares of greenhouses. I now tap off the residual heat and CO2 that would otherwise disappear into the atmosphere and this supplies almost 100% of my needs. I see the future of farming as producing close to the customer with minimal use of energy, water and raw materials.”

Ultra-Clima greenhouse

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The building has been completed and this first Ultra-Clima greenhouse in Kazakhstan is a fact. Last year, the greenhouse was sold as a turnkey project, and it was named ‘Greenhouse KZ’. The project is around 9.5 hectares in size; it includes a packing hall and greenhouse, and has been built in the town of Astana for the cultivation of cucumbers and tomatoes.

In Kazakhstan, growers have to contend with harsh winters and hot summers. This client went for a greenhouse based on the Ultra-Clima concept so that it could improve its yield despite the extreme climate. This is because it is possible to create a better greenhouse climate in a greenhouse based on the Ultra-Clima concept rather than using the traditional greenhouse concept. It goes without saying that higher yields go hand in hand with higher profitability. Other advantages that the Ultra-Clima concept has to offer are maximising food safety, lower energy consumption, less CO2 emission and minimum water consumption.
Not only did KUBO deliver the entire project; ClimaConnect is also committing itself to the project by providing four years of assistance with its Full Service Grow Concept. ClimaConnect will be supporting Greenhouse KZ by deploying a cultivation consultant, and by providing quality management and a monitoring platform that ClimaConnect has developed.

We broke Russian record for growing tomatoes

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“This year we broke the Russian record for growing tomatoes and next year it will be for cucumbers”

‘If we don’t do it, someone else will do it tomorrow,’ is the motto of the young Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Lashin. And so he constantly expands his activities. From developing and selling climate computers for greenhouses to growing in his own greenhouses. And from growing himself to advising other growers about the Ultra-Clima greenhouse concept. Because this is what has suddenly made the harsh climate of Lipetsk much more productive. And this is how every time and situation offers new challenges and opportunities, as he told us on Skype.
“In 1991, following the collapse of the USSR, my father and uncle started the company FITO Agro that develops computer systems for regulating climate and irrigation in greenhouses. It went very well indeed – the computerised systems continued to get better and they sold well. By that time, I had also started to work at FITO Agro and in 2012 we realised that if we wanted further growth, we would have to export. But Russia had absolutely no reputation in the field of high-end agro technology. We could sell to Iran or Jordan but not to the US or Europe, even if our products were the best in the world.”
Record yield at sub-zero outdoor temperatures
“That was when I thought that we would have to grow for ourselves. My father thought that it was a strange idea. He said, ‘Mercedes-Benz isn’t starting a taxi company, is it?’ But I was able to convince him and together with a partner we set up Lipetsk Agro. I wanted the most advanced greenhouse straight away. When visiting a customer, I had seen a beautifully made boiler room bearing the sticker Verkade Climate, so I phoned Ronald Verkade, told him my plans, and he introduced me to KUBO. They built our first 5 hectare greenhouse in 2013 and followed this in 2014 with a second 5 hectare greenhouse, and a 17 hectare greenhouse in
2016. In 2017, we’ll be getting a 25 hectare greenhouse. So many greenhouses have never been built in such a short time in Russia. And they all use KUBO’s Ultra-Clima concept and FITO Agro’s climate computers. Our cold climate is no problem at all for Ultra-Clima which circulates heat from sunlight for energy-efficient heating. In spite of sub-zero outdoor temperatures, we achieved the highest tomato production in Russia: 92 kilos per square metre. And I know for sure that we’ll break the national record for cucumbers next year.”
Not competitors but colleagues
“It’s funny to think that Ultra-Clima was developed for a totally different climate in California. And then mostly for keeping insects outside with its semi-closed system. That part of it is less interesting for us because the critters freeze to death here. But apart from that, Ultra-Clima means high yield and low energy consumption. And that’s important for every grower, everywhere in the world! Once our first greenhouse was opened, other growers came round to take a look and were blown away. That’s how our greenhouse became KUBO’s Russian showroom and I became their agent. My share in their sales is now more than 10%. Also, I don’t regard my fellow growers in Russia as competitors – our market is enormous. When you consider that Russia has only 1,500 hectares of greenhouses and the Netherlands has 9,000 hectares, you can see that there’s plenty of space for growth!”

Serre Toundra officially opened

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KUBO opened the Serres Toundra project in Saint Félicien, close to Quebec, last week. The greenhouse was officially opened by the Prime Minister of the Canadian province of Quebec.

This project is the first part of 4 phases. In this phase the choice was a high-tech Venlo greenhouse with a surface area of about 9 hectares for cultivating cucumbers and mini cucumbers. The greenhouse structure is based on the challenging climate conditions. The greenhouse also uses residual heat and CO2 from the adjacent paper mill.
Investors who recognise the importance of local entrepreneurship are behind the project. They are growing vegetables for the local market. The cucumbers find their way to the consumers via local supermarkets.
The project enjoys broad political support. The proud residents of Quebec are aware that Dutch technology is the only choice to cultivate high-quality, high-quantity productions year-round. Among others, AAB, KUBO, STOLZE and Delphy are involved in this project.

Japanese rose grower expects to double its harvest in Ultra-Clima

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A remarkable Ultra-Clima greenhouse in Japan: KUBO is building (final stage) a 1.5-hectare project for Kunieda Rose. It is remarkable because for a change it’s not for tomatoes but for roses instead. Thanks to the expansion, the company has not only tripled in size, it has also taken a step forwards in terms of sustainable technology.

In Japan, a company that covers 1.5 hectares is considered large. This is because the country doesn’t have much flat land for development. So as a consequence businesses are not as large in terms of size as they are elsewhere in the world. The Japanese government, however, strongly promotes the use of innovative technology in the horticultural sector. Since the nuclear incident in 2011, Japan wants to focus more on technology to safeguard food production, among other things.
Kunieda Rose products also stay in their own country, where roses are considered a luxury. The expectation is that the Ultra-Clima greenhouse will double the yield per square metre, and that it will also improve the quality. This is quite an achievement given that the climate in Japan is very hot and humid for several months of the year, at night too. A sophisticated night cooling system has been used to ensure that a good average daily temperature is achieved despite the climate. It is all made possible by using Ultra-Clima technology very effectively and efficiently. A contract for cultivation advice has been concluded with KUBO’s subsidiary, ClimaConnect. The project was implemented in collaboration with our local partner Daisen.

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