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Greenscape A world we all need


A world we all need The Green factor remains ‘hot’ and isn’t cooling down! This is with good reason. More and more people are experiencing that green products (plants) have a positive effect on their lives. This effect will only increase in the future. In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives we crave relaxation and recreation. There is no better place to pursue these things than in attractive green surroundings. For many people nature is a place for calming down and re-charging their batteries. Whether it’s in their private gardens or in public parks, people want to see, feel, smell, taste and experience nature. Positive effect on society However, green products have more to offer than just relaxation. Numerous studies show that plants and trees have a positive effect on people’s well-being. Especially in urban areas this effect is considerable. Professionally landscape planting in urban green spaces not only improves the look of these areas but also helps to purify the air, cool the atmosphere, absorb and reduce noise and buffer rainwater. In addition, green products increase the vitality and safety of the surroundings and boost the property values.

The ‘Green’ factor also facilitates sports and recreation in residential areas, contributing to improved health amongst its people. The method of ‘planting the right tree in the right place’ has an extra positive effect on people, as well as delivering cost-effective green infrastructure that brings maximum benefit to the surroundings. Unique added value The growing focus of green products and sustainability offers wonderful opportunities for the future. This means the tree nursery sector has a magnificent product at exactly the right time in history. The challenge is to bring this unique perspective of social and economic added value to the attention of consumers as well as institutional buyers with an effective approach. In support of this, the promotion and marketing organisation Plant Publicity Holland (PPH) has organised two umbrella campaigns on behalf of the Dutch tree nursery sector: a campaign specifically for the consumer and one focusing on public green space. Both campaigns allow people to experience the positive effect of plants and trees on their well-being and beyond! Moreover these campaigns will make people aware of the fact that investing in green products is of great financial benefit.

Did you know that people living in green surroundings are healthier?

Sector on

the move

Did you know that there are 3,700 tree nurseries on a total of 17,500 ha in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands plays a leading role on the international tree nursery market. The high quality Map of the and wide range of product, distribution of tree coupled with the expertise nurseries in NL and sophisticated logistics, together with a customer-oriented market approach all contribute to the strength of this sector. Whereas initially craftsmanship was the decisive factor , responding to the market has since become more and more important. Scaling-up and specialisation are important developments in this context. The Dutch tree nursery sector has a strong position at home as well as internationally, thanks to the breadth and depth of the range, extensive expertise and logistics, and the business instinct and degree of organisation of its operators. The Netherlands is also prominent in the field of quality and product innovation. Moreover Dutch tree growers are innovative and always ready to adapt their business structures and cultivating methods to the requirements set by buyers and society.

Growing centres Within the tree nursery sector the size of businesses vary between just over 1 hectare to many hundreds of hectares. Many tree nurseries combine strong production with professional trading. It is typical of the sector that the growing centres are distributed all over the Netherlands. Traditionally cultivation was restricted by soil type and space, but since in many cases cultivation is no longer restricted to soil, the growing centres produce other products as well. Within the tree nursery sector about 3,700 companies are active in an area of approximately 17,500 hectares. During the last few years the area has grown slightly, whereas the number of companies is decreasing as growers and nurseries are increasing their land-holdings. It is expected that this scaling-up will continue during the foreseeable future. For many enterprises expansion is a way to increase efficiency enabling them to meet the demand from international retail chains for large uniform consignments. This had led to increased specialisation in one or just a few varieties and intensified co-operation to maintain the ability to meet the demand for a comprehensive range.

Did you know that without tree nurseries there would be no apples in the shops?

Innovation and mechanisation As a result of increased innovation and mechanisation the quality of the Dutch tree nursery product has grown in the last few years. The process of planting and lifting trees is increasingly automated. In the future, current developments aimed at reducing or relieving human labour will move forward. In open-air cultivation the application of satellite navigation for the purpose of mechanised lifting and precision will be extended. Nowadays pruning and weed control are also highly automated. In container cultivation, automation will continue with respect to water management, potting and storing as well as all other aspects of the supply chain. Moreover the growing sector continues to provide innovation. Every year hundreds of new cultivars are introduced onto the market. The Royal Boskoop Horticultural Society (KVBC) inspects many of those introductions and advises growers on the selection to be cultivated. This is managed in association with Applied Plant Research (PPO). For the last few years the KVBC has also operated internationally. Under the name of Euro-trials they co-operate in the field of selection inspections with organisations in other European countries. In addition market-oriented innovations are developed in the sector with growers responding to market demands with a new product or concept. Naktuinbouw (Netherlands Inspection Service for Horticulture) examines varieties focusing on the identity of plant varieties. The team examines the distinctiveness, uniformity and stability of varieties and conducts the administration relating to admission and plant breeders’ rights. 60% Exportation The production value of the tree nursery sector has shown an increase for many years and is currently around €600 million.

Did you know that 60% of Dutch tree nursery products are exported?

Extensive Product groups The sector consists of several product groups. The Dutch tree nursery range includes avenue trees, fruit trees, shrubs and hedging plants, ornamental shrubs, conifers, climbers, roses, perennials, aquatic plants and source material.

About 40% is sold on the home market; approximately 60% is exported, which makes the Netherlands a major player in the international tree nursery market. No other country in the world exports this many tree nursery products. Export is showing long-term growth with Germany, the United Kingdom and France being the chief export markets. In addition the sector has a number of newly developing markets for export including several Eastern European countries. Outside Europe, the United States and Canada are the main importers with their main interest being in Dutch perennials. The tree nursery market is characterised by a large diversity of outlet channels and buyers. An important development in this respect is that the market is changing from a supply-driven market into a demand-driven market with an increasingly important role for the buyer. This results in different requirements for tree growers. It is not enough just to have green fingers; a professional increasingly plays the role of entrepreneur, marketer and manager.

Avenue, forest and park trees A quarter of the Dutch tree nursery area is used for the production of avenue trees. In addition to extensive professionalism, the avenue tree sector is also characterised by progressive mechanisation. The application of modern machines not only facilitates planting but also enables more efficient lifting of trees and weed control. Avenue trees are not only cultivated in the open air but also in container systems or other cultivation systems (spring-ring containers, pot-in-

pot cultivation, cultivation grooves). The main advantage of this is that the trees can be cultivated year-round. The demand for large trees and shrubs for the institutional market is growing. Growers are responding to this by offering the sizeable material in containers year-round. Fruit trees and fruit tree stock In the fruit tree sector, the cultivation of genuine and disease-resistant trees plays an especially important role. Netherlands Propagation Nurseries, Test Center Horst and Naktuinbouw fulfil an important role making young planting material virus-free. The development of new (apple) varieties is a central theme too. The greater part of fruit trees are sold to fruit growers with the sale to the consumer market gaining more importance. New selections and new cultivation methods enable the cultivation of small, rich fruit-bearing fruit trees for private gardens, balconies and terraces. Roses and rose stock The rose sector has seen a shift to rose production protected under plant breeders’ rights. There is a great focus on quality within the sector. High-quality open-air roses are awarded the designation ‘Top Rose’.

The Outdoor Shrubs and hedging plants In the shrub and hedging plant sector machines have also facilitated sowing and lifting functions. The cultivation in pots and plugs has resulted in new sales opportunities in the sector. Cultivation in pots is a good solution during periods when bare root planting is not possible. This sub-sector also accounts for some innovative products for the consumer market. The best-known examples are fully grown hedges, including racks and containers which can be planted as elements to provide that ‘instant garden’. Ornamental shrubs, conifers and climbers In the field of ornamental shrubs, conifers and climbers, the Netherlands has gained a strong reputation. Whereas some businesses specialise in the production of a limited range in large uniform quantities, others have opted for the production of a wide selection or a niche market. Roof and wall vegetation is an example of this which applies across Europe.

Perennials and aquatic plants Dutch perennial growers cultivate a wide range of open-air plants and potted products. Many perennials find their way to countries such as the USA and Canada. For these export markets the roots are rinsed to avoid diseases from spreading. Sales in the consumer market are getting more and more conceptual; for instance plants are less often sold according to variety and more often on the basis of colour or specific characteristics (e.g. soil-covering or attracting butterflies). The number of aquatic plant growers is small, but it has built an impressive reputation worldwide. A fine end product starts with young plants of high quality. Dutch businesses have built tremendous expertise in the field of young plants and offer guarantees for good and healthy young plants in collaboration with various organisations.

Did you know that aquatic plants are tree nursery products too?

During recent years the garden has come to be regarded as an extension of the home, a place where people can retreat from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. Hence the garden has gained a new meaning. Nowadays garden owners want to enjoy their garden and use it as a place of relaxation, which has an effect on the sale of tree nursery products in the consumer market. There is no doubt that the consumer takes a huge interest in the garden. However, the garden owner has changed in profile and fills his spare time in various ways. There is a growing need for peace and quiet. The consumer increasingly prefers natural surroundings in the private garden. The demand for plants and trees that provide this is growing and ‘perception’ is the key word in this context. The tree nursery sector responds to these developments by offering visually attractive products which require little care and by highlighting the added value of a plant in the product information. In this context the provision of information by means of labels, promotional material and the Internet is becoming more and more important. Indeed it is the story behind the plant that offers enormous opportunities for the tree nursery sector. Year-round enjoyment Successful sales largely depend on the weather as people prefer working in the garden when the weather is fine. As a result the sales are concentrated in springtime despite the fact that autumn is the best time to plant tree nursery products. To extend the selling season the sector not only offers open-air products but also plants and trees in pots and containers because they are less sensitive in dry and frosty peri-

room ods. Products which are grown in this manner can be planted virtually year-round. The specialist The garden centre is by far the most important buying channel for the consumer. However, times are changing. The influence of chain stores, DIY chains, supermarkets and home furnishing stores is on the rise. These stores also show an increasing interest in garden plants, resulting in more competition. Still there are crucial differences between the various suppliers of tree nursery products. DIY chains and supermarkets usually offer their limited range in the form of special offers. These interesting special offers are intended to attract extra customers to the stores. Garden centres and growers, on the other hand, carry a large range of tree nursery products. And although the present consumer is an impulse buyer, there is a group of garden owners that choose their products consciously and will always prefer the specialist, not least because of the good advice and the large range.

Did you know that Colour Your Life is the European campaign for garden plants?

International breeding ground Young plants of high quality are the basis of a high-quality end product. Dutch plant propagators know this like no one else. In the course of the years they have accumulated tremendous expertise. Moreover they safeguard the health and trueness to type of the young plants in association with the inspection service Naktuinbouw and Netherlands Propagation Nurseries. This accounts for the fact that the Netherlands has developed into the breeding ground of the international tree nursery sector. The Netherlands fills an important position in the international market for young plants. Dutch young plants are of high quality, the expertise and service are of a high level and the range is wide. Also logistics are well-organised. Therefore it is not surprising that demand for Dutch young plants is growing, at home as well as abroad. Nowadays propagation is mostly in the hands of specialised companies, which is a development with a marked background. Whereas in the past it was common for growers to propagate their own products and grow them into saleable products, businesses nowadays have no time to do everything under their own management. They increasingly specialise in the growing process and leave propagation to specialists.

Did you know that many perennials are propagated in a laboratory?

Foreign market Foreign demand for Dutch young plants is also rising. Not only do growers from surrounding countries increasingly obtain their young plants from the Netherlands, but Southern European countries are also showing more interest. In addition demand from Eastern Europe is also growing. As the growing season is shorter there, more and more Eastern European growers opt for Dutch material which is of a superior quality and more robust. Emergence of Tissue Culture For the propagation of young plants, various propagation methods are applied. Propagation can take place on the basis of seeds or spurs or by means of cuttings, grafting and chip budding. Tissue cultures are also an emerging method of propagation. This method comprises the cultivation of plant (parts) on an artificial nutrient medium under sterile conditions, enabling the cultivation of large numbers of uniform plants in a short time. Hence tissue cultures are ideal for a rapid introduction of novelties. It is also a suitable method for products that are difficult to propagate in any other way or for planting material that needs to be absolutely free from disease (virus-free). In the tree nursery sector tissue cultures open up new perspectives for growers of perennials. There is a great demand for new cultivars in the perennial sector and also there is a much interest in virus-free perennials.

Did you know that the Netherlands are very good at innovation in relation to range?

Quality control In order to maintain the current good position in the international market, it is essential that young Dutch plants are and will continue to be of high quality. Naktuinbouw plays an important role in this respect. This organisation monitors the quality, health, germinating power and genuineness of propagating material, notably in the fruit tree sector. The organisation’s activities include tests and inspections to establish whether the material complies with the European directives and the regulations of the Dutch Seeds and Planting Material Act.

In addition to the compulsory quality inspections Naktuinbouw also issues certificates to propagators and growers giving extra care and attention to their products. Planting material that complies with these stricter requirements may be sold with a Naktuinbouw quality mark and/or certificate. The Naktuinbouw quality mark enjoy an international reputation. Besides Naktuinbouw, Netherlands Propagation Nurseries also play an important role with respect to the quality of young plants. At various locations the gardens produce guaranteed virus-free and genuine young plants for the propagation of fruit trees and avenue trees: virus-free wood for cuttings, grafting and chip budding as well as young plants and stock for further propagation. To be assured of genuine and virus-free young plants virtually all fruit tree growers are associated with Netherlands Propagation Nurseries. Moreover tree growers from other product groups are also associated.

Sustainable The institutional market is becoming more aware of the social and economic value of a green living environment and consequently sustainable buying is gaining an increasing role in its policy. As a result companies cultivating products in a sustainable way see their efforts rewarded more and more. However, the institutional market is facing other issues. Authorities have to spend financial resources more and more efficiently resulting in specific requirements for both an range requiring little care and for the transfer of expertise.

green Did you know that green surroundings increase property values?

In the Netherlands a number of companies almost exclusively supply to the institutional market, a market offering new challenges. Companies take the challenge by means of innovations in the range of their products and attention to the maintenance implications of planting. Furthermore they support their customers with expertise and advice in relation to the varieties being specified . Added value The growing realisation that plants and trees offer added value gives green public space a considerable impetus. Residents attach importance to the green space in their neighbourhood and raise their voice when this area within their immediate living environment becomes an issue. The authorities themselves also recognise the importance of public green space, since various studies show that green space reinforces the town and city with respect to living, working, recreation and health: plants and trees improve air quality, buffer rain water and help to control temperatures. In addition there is scientific evidence that people living in green surroundings not only feel healthier, but are, in fact, healthier. Green space also stimulates people to exercise.

But green space in towns or cities not only serves a major social interest. It also represents an added economic value, which is expressed in increased property values and a more favourable climate for establishing this for businesses as well as individuals. In order to work, live and recreate in a town or city in a pleasant and responsible way, quality green space is essential. Sustainability In addition to the growing attention for green space, commitment to sustainability is also increasing. Several initiatives and projects have boosted expertise and interest in the sustainable production of plants and trees with buyers of institutional organisations. This is a

development that the Dutch tree nursery sector has embraced. The sector applies various product and company quality marks attaching great value to sustainability. Some examples are the various MPS quality marks, MPS-A with proof of sustainability and certification systems such as ISO 9001 and 14001.

Did you know that urban green space also purifies the air and reduces noise levels?

Further introduction Within the tree nursery sector several disciplines forming the foundation of this market can be distinguished, including education and research. How are these disciplines organised? And how does the sector deal with the growing (need for) innovation and digitalisation? A further introduction ‌ Education There is a constant demand for skilled personnel in the tree nursery sector. As a result of increased scaling-up, automation and digitalisation, however, the demand for better trained staff will increase in the future. That is why the business community has set up so-called businessoriented tree nursery training courses at several locations in association with training centres. The idea is to enable students to gain practical experience and theoretical knowledge. The students are trained by teachers from regular education as well as growers and advisers who know the trade like no one else. After their training the students can start working at one of the associated work placement companies.

Did you know that the Greenport regions together make up the principal tree growing area in the world?

The staff of these work placement companies may also take part in the training courses. In addition the sector offers many training opportunities by way of specific tailor-made courses enabling (managerial) staff to refresh their knowledge and skills almost continuously.

Digital trade Increasing digitalisation widens the sales potential of the grower as well as the customer. Thanks to digital marketplaces, web shops and social media, information can be distributed rapidly, is more accessible and can be viewed 24-7. As far as marketplaces are concerned, the tree nursery sector operates a number of successful digital supply and demand systems. There are several systems with all kinds of facilities to conduct business electronically. Quite often these can be connected to each other with the cultivation planning, administration and logistics all creating a closed system.

Research Applied Plant Research (PPO) is the principal research institution in the tree nursery sector. PPO is part of Wageningen University and Research Centre, forming the link between practice and science. PPO comprises several areas. For the tree nursery sector research is conducted in the field of sustainable cultivation, integrated plant protection, range application, correct nomenclature and plant breeding.

Did you know that many tree nurseries are approved work placement companies?

Sustainable cultivation methods including above-ground cultivation and precision cultivation are important research subjects. A promising example of this is cultivation in grooves, a system which has a favourable effect on labour distribution and working conditions, product quality, emissions to the environment and cost price. In addition to the ornamental value of products specific research increasingly focuses on the positive effects of green space on health, urban climate and biodiversity. Within the tree nursery sector PPO works in close collaboration with its counterparts to emphasise the value of tree nursery products and provide its scientific underpinning. Some examples are the study into the value of avenue trees, forest trees and park trees, and projects focusing on the applications of the products (having the right tree in the right place).

Co-operation Although the tree nursery sector comprises many businesses operating individually, there are some fine examples of co-operation. Besides co-operation within the sector and trade organisations, there are businesses bundling sales or collaborating in the field of business advice, labelling, the purchase of machines or the purchase of fertilisers. In addition there are collaborative arrangements with partners outside the tree nursery sector. The co-operation at the level of Greenport Boomteelt Nederland is a more recent development. In this collaborative project five tree nursery regions – Greenport Boskoop, Nederbetuwe, Zundert, Haaren and Horst aan de Maas all work together to achieve the common promotion of the output of these regions.

organisations Within the tree nursery sector a number of organisations play a key role, propagating the value of the sector and defending the interests of businesses, thus enabling the sector to deal effectively with matters at a regional, national as well as international level. A list of some key organisations… Dutch Confederation of Agriculture and Horticulture (LTO Nederland) The Dutch Confederation of Agriculture and Horticulture (LTO Nederland) is the trade association for the whole agricultural sector, including the tree and perennial nursery sector. Growers meet each other in crop groups and circles within the organisation. There are six crop groups chiefly dealing with technical issues with regional matters dealt with in the circles. Anthos More than half of the Dutch production of tree nursery products is exported. The exporters’ and traders’ interests are promoted by Anthos, the Royal Trade Association for Nursery Stock and Flower Bulbs.

Did you know that various agencies supervise the quality on a daily basis? Anthos is committed to helping its members on a wide front. One of its chief tasks is the removal of (inter)national trade barriers. When these barriers are of a phytosanitary nature, Anthos works in close collaboration with the Food and Consumer Product safety Authority (VWA). In addition Anthos is a party to the employers’ and employees’ consultations and focuses on issues relating to training, research and quality, sales and marketing. Moreover Anthos offers its members a wide package of services relating to terms of sale and payment. Applied Plant Research Research in the Dutch tree nursery sector is mainly aimed at providing sustainable and practical solutions. Applied Plant Research (PPO) is the principal research institution in the tree nursery sector. PPO is part of Wageningen University and Research Centre, forming the link between practice and science. In addition PPO makes a major contribution to the correct nomenclature of tree nursery products. The ‘List of Names of Woody Plants’ and the ‘List of Names of Perennials’ are recognised international standards. For the purpose of guarding the correct nomenclature and the inspection of crops, PPO collaborates closely with the Royal Boskoop Horticultural Society (KVBC). PPO works in close collaboration with PPH on the distribution of various publications with up-to-date information.

Product Board for Horticulture The Product Board for Horticulture (PT) serves the interests of the total horticultural sector, including the tree nursery sector. All growers and traders within this sector pay a contribution to the PT on the basis on their turnover. With the money various matters are fully or partly financed. In addition the PT finances research projects suggested by the business community. The product board also has a key role with respect to co-ordination and initiation in the field of employment and training. With all these activities the PT aims at safeguarding and reinforcing the international market position and competitiveness of the Dutch tree nursery sector. Naktuinbouw The Netherlands Inspection Service for Horticulture (Naktuinbouw) supervises the quality and health of propagating material in the Netherlands. Naktuinbouw carries out quality inspections in accordance with the European directives and the regulations of the Dutch Seeds and Planting Material Act. Naktuinbouw’s inspectors inspect businesses, production processes, crops and documents. When everything is in compliance with the requirements, the planting material can be traded. In addition to the compulsory quality inspections Naktuinbouw also issues certificates to growers giving extra care and attention to their products. Various quality-plus systems enable companies to indicate top quality. In addition, Naktuinbouw has conducted a plant passport control system on behalf of the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (VWA) since 1993. This passport, involving so-called phytosanitary checks, is required for a large number of crops. Since 1 September 2007 Naktuinbouw has also carried out import and export checks on behalf of the VWA. In addition Naktuinbouw deals with matters such as the registration of varieties, making crops virus-free and offering guidance to growers concerning the use of quality management systems.

Plant Publicity Holland Since 1952 Plant Publicity Holland (PPH) has been responsible for the collective (sales) promotion of the Dutch tree nursery product. For this purpose the organisation undertakes and monitors a large number of activities and is active in the consumer market, the public green space market and the professional market including the market for young plants. In the consumer market PPH prioritises the added value of green space with its umbrella campaign ‘Colour Your Life’. In this campaign the garden is the central theme and there is attention for the enjoyment of garden plants in their broadest sense. There is a website with information about the garden and garden plants and the campaign is complimented with specific information for the trade and the press. The campaign runs in various European countries. The promotion on the public green space market is based on an umbrella campaign: The Green City. In this campaign the emphasis is on the multifunctionality of plants and trees and the social and economic value of green space for the living and working environment. The message that a green city has a positive effect on living, working, health and recreation is promoted. This campaign is in fact active across several countries. PPH promotes the Dutch tree nursery sector internationally by means of newsletters, websites, social media, promotional material, presentations, conferences and press visits. Moreover the organisation participates in trade fairs at home and abroad. All of PPH’s activities come about in close collaboration with the Dutch tree nursery sector.

Did you know that the ‘The Green City’ campaign is running globally?

A green living environment makes an essential contribution towards our well-being. The tree nursery sector, in its turn, contributes to this green living environment. Without tree nurseries there would be no green avenues, no plants in the garden and no wholesome, juicy apples. This brochure gives an impression of the tree nursery sector in the Netherlands. How are plants cultivated? How is quality control organised? And how is the marketing chain developing? This brochure offers a unique insight into the organisation of the Dutch tree nursery sector.

Goudse Rijweg 1 NL-2771 AE Boskoop T: +31 (0)172 217 550 F: +31 (0)172 218 350

Greenscape, a world we all need  

This brochure gives an impression of the tree nursery sector in the Netherlands. How are plants cultivated? How is quality control organised...

Greenscape, a world we all need  

This brochure gives an impression of the tree nursery sector in the Netherlands. How are plants cultivated? How is quality control organised...