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KUBO Group consists of four companies that strengthen and support each other. At KUBO Group and its subsidiaries, we are synonymous with innovation and sustainability, constantly striving to advance the agricultural sector.

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ESG: The Driving Force of Corporate Responsibility

In the rapidly changing landscape of today's business world, the crucial role of ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) is becoming increasingly prominent. At KUBO Group, we embrace this change and see ESG not just as an obligation, but as an opportunity to strengthen our commitment to a sustainable future.

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15 years of Ultra-Clima®: 'We quickly saw that you could do much more with the Ultra-Clima greenhouse than with a traditional greenhouse'

They are in places where growing vegetables was once science fiction: in red-hot deserts and up against the Arctic Circle. To say that KUBO's Ultra-Clima greenhouse has changed greenhouse farming is an understatement. After 15 years, the greenhouse is in use on more than 700 hectares worldwide. And to think that it all started with that one question from an American grower to Wouter Kuiper. Casey Houweling (an American grower with Dutch roots, ed.) wanted to get rid of the insect netting. Whether we could think along about a greenhouse with overpressure.' Fifteen years later, the Ultra-Clima greenhouse is far from finished. 'You will soon be able to grow with two fingers in your nose.'

What sounds like a success story now, nevertheless had a long run-up. Thanks to Casey Houweling and Wouter Kuiper of KUBO, the Ultra-Clima greenhouse has proved to be a keeper. Wouter: "Others have wondered whether I was completely comfortable: a greenhouse builder who wanted to establish a different greenhouse concept? But Casey believed in it. He knew that overpressure was the key to a different way of growing. As the innovation process progressed, we saw more and more possibilities and advantages.'

A 7,000-square-foot test greenhouse was built in an existing part of his farm in California. 'At that point, the principle worked. Casey was successful with it from the beginning. After five months he said: I want to have 16 acres. We thought it was a very big step, but he was motivated to make it a success. He quickly went over a hundred pounds of tomatoes per square meter the very first season, combined with lower energy use and less CO2 emissions.'

New handbook for growers
That motivation is what KUBO finally needed to make the Ultra-Clima concept a real "greenhouse success. Because not only is it a different concept, the handbook for growers has to be rewritten. The way of growing is completely different from a traditional greenhouse. It's 180 degrees different. How were you supposed to steer? Climate computers turned out not to be suitable for it. Cultivation becomes much more of a physical process instead of 'I'll just feel a heating pipe.'

For KUBO, it was the impetus to build a new department, KUBO Smart Growing. A team of ten employees - growers, scientists and labor specialists. This team helps growers grow successfully through guidance, courses and training and everyday practical questions.

Number of advantages in one
Only after about ten years has the Ultra-Clima greenhouse really begun to catch on, KUBO sees. The semi-closed greenhouse appears to combine a large number of advantages in one: optimal climate control, which increases production, greater food safety, less consumption of energy and water and lower CO2 emissions. Added together, those factors result in higher returns. 'Yes, it became a breakthrough. We see that we can achieve a better plant balance, more is possible in temperature and climate control. In addition, with the Ultra-Clima greenhouse you can grow in any climate in the world. We quickly saw that you could do much more with the greenhouse than with a traditional greenhouse. There are greenhouses in the desert, there are greenhouses in tropical climates and there are greenhouses in parts of the world where it is extremely cold. The efficiency varies by location. In one location you can save energy, in another the advantage is that you are in production while the rest cannot. Then, of course, as a grower you hit the jackpot.'

Protected design
Meanwhile, other greenhouse builders can develop their own version of the Ultra-Clima greenhouse. The design is protected by patents and patent law, but applying for a sublicense is possible. 'Other greenhouse builders must decide for themselves how to build the greenhouse. We have fifteen years of experience and in practice the combination of hardware, software and knowledge turns out to be a tricky one. Besides, we have so many different climates in the world. Each climate has its own growing strategy and this combined with the crop and system. This requires a lot of knowledge.

Steps toward autonomous growing
The development is not standing still. On the contrary, there is much more to come, Wouter promises. 'A few years ago we opened a test center, Blue Lab, our own Ultra-Clima greenhouse near our head office in Westland. We have been growing there for over three years now. The test greenhouse has given us the insight into what else is possible. And that is still a lot. The success of the greenhouse and a good team have enabled us to take the first steps towards autonomous growing. But I can already say that we are also going to make revolutionary steps in terms of energy and CO2 use. Growing will no longer be difficult. You will soon be able to grow with two fingers in your nose. A grower will have no problem scaling up, he can comply with the Green Deal and all other standards. This will be the greenhouse of the future.

Anyone who thinks that the Ultra-Clima is done developing at the age of 15 is wrong. The Ultra-Clima will continue to make a valuable contribution to innovations in horticulture in the years to come.

For more information:
KUBO Horticultural Projects
[email protected]

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