Perennial growers question sustainability of peat substitutes
External transfer also a topic at the ISU Future Days
(ISU) Sustainable production and the preservation of perennial nurseries are pressing issues in the industry throughout Europe. This was impressively demonstrated at the Future Days of the International Hardy Plant Union, which took place in Prague in mid-October. Christoph Hokema, for example, uses a high proportion of peat substitute in his perennial nursery Fehrle Stauden. But he also pointed out the high carbon footprint of coconut fiber, which is imported from Indonesia and the Philippines and often means child labor and deforestation.
Substrates without peat often have fluctuating pH levels and increased infestations of fungal diseases, criticized Sven Straeten of the German company Greenhats Sveb Straeten. In addition, the plants must be watered more heavily when sold.
Herbert Vinken cultivates herbs and ornamental plants organically at his Herb's perennial nursery in Germany. The key to strengthening soil microbiology, he says, is alternating substrates and fertilizers.
The last two presentations addressed the issue of handing over or selling a family business. Frans van Wanrooij from the Netherlands took the audience through the process, using the Vilier company as an example. The owner Theo Vilier and the new owner Stan Beekmans pointed out the most important aspects of handing over a company from a legal, human and personal point of view. It can take up to 6 years to hand over a horticultural or agricultural business, consultant Mirijam Vogt reported from her experience in Germany.
Nico Rijnbeek explained his takeover of the Dutch family business Rinbeek Stauden and the handover to his son that has now taken place. "When you pass the business on to the next generation, you must not see your offspring as a son/daughter, but as a business partner," he says. Aad Vollebregt, ISU president and Dutch perennial grower, on the other hand, told that unfortunately his older brother took over his parents' farm. He went his own way, studying and eventually buying a perennial nursery.
The participants agreed that the first ISU-Future Days was thematically a successful conference and led to new encounters internationally. The next event will take place in another country with new topics.