October 24, 2023

HortiDemoCentre: A Hub for Cutting-Edge Horticultural Technology

On 20 October 2023, the HortiDemoCentre at the Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Agrisciences, Stellenbosch University, opened its doors to welcome Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and Mr. Piet Adema, the Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality. Prof. Hester Klopper, Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Strategy, Global, and Corporate Affairs, Prof. Danie Brink, Dean of Agriculture, and Dr. Estelle Kempen, lecturer, along with Ms. Peace Quadt, Delphy project manager for the HortiDemoCentre, welcomed Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands at the start of her tour of the greenhouse.

Ms. Jancke van Wyk, an MSc student in Agronomy, discussed with the Queen the benefits of the structure selected for the Stellenbosch climate, while Mr. Adaduma Msana, a PGDip student in Agronomy, showed the visitors how nutrient solutions are reused. Ms. Kholosa Nakani, an intern at the HortiDemoCentre, explained to Queen Máxima and Minister Adema how biological methods are used to control pests on the tomato plants.

The HortiDemoCentre specializes in protected horticulture and showcases the best and most cutting-edge Dutch horticultural technology. The centre is working toward becoming a viable business in the long term by implementing innovative Dutch technologies for profitable, productive, sustainable, and climate-smart agronomy.

The centre launched its demonstration of climate-smart technologies exactly one year ago and has since served to train many undergraduate Agri-sciences students, interns, and industry partners involved in greenhouse production.

As partners, Delphy BV, Stellenbosch University, Greener Solutions, Ludvig Svensson, Ridder Group, Rijk Zwaan, Control Union, and Koppert South Africa offer a broad spectrum of knowledge and technology throughout the horticultural value chain.

This project serves as an excellent example of how such a partnership between industry and academia in the two countries can be successful. The centre is unique in the water and nutrient-efficient methods it applies, makes use of rainwater, and bases its crop health management on an integrated pest management system.

In May 2023, the centre initiated a variety of climate-smart training opportunities for students, farmers, and anyone working in the industry and wanting to improve their knowledge on a specific aspect of protected cultivation. The consortium partners will also contribute their unique expertise to these short courses, which will cover topics from Crop Production and Greenhouse Management to Business Skills for Horticulture.

For more information, to register for the courses, and to keep up to date on what is happening at the HortiDemoCentre, please follow us on LinkedIn, visit our website www.hortidemocentre.co.za, or contact Dr. Estelle Kempen at [email protected].