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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 852: IV International Symposium on Ecologically Sound Fertilization Strategies for Field Vegetable Production

TECHNOLOGY VERSUS AGRO-ECOLOGY IN DESIGNING VEGETABLE PRODUCTION SYSTEMS IN THE NETHERLANDS

Authors:   J. de Haan, W. Sukkel, E. Stilma
Keywords:   sustainability, technology, agro-ecology, diversity, fertigation, hydroponics, market demands
Abstract:
Current open field vegetable production systems in the Netherlands do not meet market and societal demands. These demands could not be fulfilled by adapting current production systems. Other kinds of production systems are needed and therefore two types of systems are designed by 1) a technological and 2) an agro-ecological vision. The technological vision aims at excluding and predicting external influences with the focus on control. Variants of this vision are production systems with fertigation and mulching with foil and hydroponic systems. Fertigation combined with mulching improves nutrient and water use efficiency and reduces leaching. Hydroponic systems exclude soil effects as well. The agro-ecological vision aims at creating buffers to make systems resilient against negative external influences with the focus on prevention. The general hypothesis is that diversity improves resilience and sustainability. Examples of various forms of diversity are discussed. The difference in paradigm between both visions is a mostly fundamental difference. The question is whether technological and agro-ecological farming systems can fulfill societal demands and in what timeframe systems will be ready for application in practice. Both visions need to be developed further to have a diverse set of production systems ready.
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