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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1132: XVIII International Symposium on Horticultural Economics and Management

Crossing the chasm in Dutch greenhouse horticulture: the case of the New Cultivation concept

Authors:   J.S. Buurma, P.X. Smit
Keywords:   greenhouses, innovation, climate management, early adopters, knowledge needs, early majority, group dynamics
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1132.10
Dutch greenhouse horticulture has an innovation and development programme called LSQUOKas als EnergiebronRSQUO (Greenhouse as Energy Producer). The objective of this programme is reducing the carbon footprint and improving the energy efficiency of greenhouse horticulture, and developing a climate neutral greenhouse in 2020. In 2009 the programme introduced the New Cultivation concept. Previous research showed that this concept could reduce heat demand 15-30%. The target was to have 400 ha of greenhouses applying the concept in 2015 and 2000 ha in 2020. In 2012 the sector had achieved 90 ha, realised by 18 firms. This achievement was considered insufficient to meet the targets for 2015 and 2020. For that reason two sociological studies were started. One study in 2012 to specify the knowledge needs of the early adopters. A second study in 2014 to analyse the group dynamics of the early majority in making the shift to the New Cultivation concept. In both studies, face-to-face interviews were conducted with greenhouse growers. Each individual interview was summarised in a mind map. In addition, meta-analyses were made in which the mind maps were ranked on basis of similarities and dissimilarities. The meta-analysis of the 2012 study revealed striking differences in the focus points of researchers, equipment suppliers, crop advisers and early adopters. These differences in focus points emphasized that demand and supply of knowledge in the knowledge chain were not yet geared to one another. In fact the early adopters had to integrate various fragments of knowledge into a practical version of New Cultivation, meeting their needs of a better crop growth, smaller crop losses and lower heating costs. The necessity to compose a practical version out of fragments of knowledge explains the LSQUOchasmRSQUO between the early adopters and the early majority. The early majority lacks the agency to compose a practical version on their own. The bridge for LSQUOCrossing the ChasmRSQUO was organising learning groups of colleagues. The meta-analysis of the 2014 study revealed three subgroups: market-oriented, crop-oriented and costs-oriented growers. For further introduction we advised to focus on the subgroup of crop-oriented growers. The reasons for this advice were: the size of the subgroup (50% of population), their passion for climate management, their desire to exchange experiences and their fear for the plant health risks of the New Cultivation concept.

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