Wide-ranging seminars, innovations and new pavilions at GreenTech

Amsterdam trade fair expands with co-hosted TOFF event
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Wide-ranging seminars, innovations and new pavilions at GreenTech

The third edition of GreenTech Amsterdam, which runs from 12 to 14 June, will be twenty percent bigger than the last edition in 2016. By the end of March, ninety-seven percent of the available stand space had been allocated. According to the organisers, RAI Amsterdam, this proves that the event has really made its mark as an international platform for the horticultural sector. As in previous years the trade fair will feature a wide range of seminars, some of which will be held in the new themed pavilions.

Awaiting the international delegates this year will be at least 450 exhibitors, including world market leaders and innovators in horticultural technology and a full compliment of greenhouse builders, horticultural suppliers, machinery companies, potting compost and substrate producers, lighting vendors and seed suppliers.

Knowledge programme

Ever since the first GreenTech in 2014, the organisers have aimed to make this trade fair stand out from other similar events by offering a wide-ranging knowledge programme. The upcoming edition will therefore feature more than 80 seminar sessions spread over three theatres: Food & Flower Crops, Climate, Water & Energy, and Trends & Innovation.

In addition to the Vertical Farming Pavilion introduced in 2016, this year’s event features two new pavilions: the Precision Horticulture Pavilion and the Medicinal Crops Pavilion. The Precision Horticulture Pavilion will showcase censoring technology, cameras, robotisation and digitisation, while the Medicinal Crops Pavilion will focus mainly on technology for medicinal cannabis production, a subject that will also feature in the knowledge programme.

Following its success two years ago, the Vertical Farming Pavilion is to make another appearance this year. “In 2016 we embraced the discussions going on within the sector as to whether this would be the future of global food production,” exhibition manager Mariska Dreschler says. “The fact is that it is a very interesting development from a technological point of view. In this pavilion we explain exactly what the technology entails and we will also be demonstrating some cultivation systems, reflecting some of the many new initiatives in this field in recent years.”

Objective dialogue

The informative theatres are partly made possible by some of the international heavyweights of the horticultural sector, including Koppert, Biobest, Svensson, Hoogendoorn, Hortimax, Priva, Philips and Alumat. “We are very proud that these companies and organisations have expressly affiliated themselves with this initiative,” Dreschler says. As of early April, it is hoped that even more companies will contribute to the knowledge sessions. “Their knowledge and expertise make these sessions a must for any grower. Together we will produce an outstanding programme that shines the spotlight on the international grower’s day-to-day practice.”

Advisory Board

A committee of experts is advising the organisers on the themes, subjects and speakers for the knowledge programme. This Advisory Board was set up to ensure an objective dialogue on subjects of topical interest within the rapidly evolving horticultural sector.

The members of the Advisory Board for this edition are: Sjaak Bakker, chair (Wageningen University & Research), Aad van den Berg (Delphy), Gabrielle Nuijtens (Top Sector Horticulture & Propagating Materials) and Michael Ploeg (Dalsem). “We are delighted to have such a prominent Advisory Board at our side,” the exhibition manager says. “This way we can ensure that the knowledge programme is made up of sessions that will challenge growers and encourage them to push the boundaries. The Board’s expertise and experience are of inestimable value to our programme.”

The Organic Farmers Fair

This year GreenTech will also be the venue for The Organic Farmers Fair (TOFF). For three days, the spotlight will be shone on knowledge and innovation in organic agriculture and horticulture. This part of the event came about as a result of a collaboration with IFOAM and FiBL and has been made possible partly thanks to five partners: Bejo, DCM, Steketee, Koppert Biological Systems and Delphy. Wageningen University & Research is also involved as a supporting partner.

The organisers have put together a high-quality knowledge programme on organic farming, with in-depth coverage of the most relevant issues in this field. TOFF is aiming to become an international meeting place for organic growers as well as conventional growers considering the switch to organic.

Forefront role in organic farming

The Netherlands plays a leading role in the technical development of both organic and conventional agriculture and in increasing and improving production. The domestic market grew by 11.5% in 2015 and by 13% in 2016, to around €1.5 billion, with exports of €1.2 billion. The total EU market exceeded €30 billion in 2016. Annual turnover in the world market is heading towards the €100 billion mark.

Markets are developing fast, but so is organic farming technology, with several thousand companies supplying products and services to organic farmers across the globe. So it was a logical step to combine the momentum of the TOFF event with GreenTech 2018 at RAI Amsterdam. Delegates can also take the opportunity to visit some innovative organic farms and demo fields in the Netherlands.

The future of horticulture

The GreenTech Summit takes place on 11 June, the day before the exhibition opens. This seminar offers 750 investors, breeders and growers a unique opportunity to network and to take part in a high-quality programme of sessions. Under the title “The future of horticulture – insights for the next decade”, visionaries and experts will be sharing their vision of the world of horticulture over the next ten years.

The summit will be hosted by stand-up comedian Greg Shapiro and will feature speakers including Stijn Baan (Koppert Cress), Martin Koppert (Koppert Biological Systems), Mike Vermeij (BOM Group) and Christian Kromme, futurist, speaker and author of “Humanification”. Kromme will help unlock the DNA of innovation and will explain how to apply it in our horticultural businesses and our daily lives.

Flower Trials

The direct tie-in with the Flower Trials breeders’ event delivers great added value, the exhibition organisers believe. “The two events were held simultaneously in 2014, and there was some mutual interaction in 2016. We will be continuing this collaboration this year,” Dreschler says.

A greenhouse is to be built in the exhibition hall, where ornamentals breeders taking part in the popular open days will be presenting their products. Vegetable breeders’ crops will also be on display, ensuring that this key greenhouse horticulture segment is also represented at the show. The breeders’ pavilion looks set to be an impressive experience and a good starting point for the visits to breeder organisations.

Innovation Award

One of the highlights of the first two editions of GreenTech was the much coveted Innovation Award, which attracts more and more entries each time. This award forms part of the exhibition’s efforts to stand out internationally in the areas of knowledge transfer and innovation. “We want to showcase all the latest trends and developments,” Dreschler says. “I would even go so far as to say that no other horticultural trade fair in the world shines the spotlight so emphatically on its innovations.”

Annual international trade fair

Dreschler says she will regard the 2018 edition as a success if it gives rise to synergies between exhibitors and delegates that lead to potential business. “We will once again use every indicator at our disposal to gauge satisfaction levels among the various target groups. If delegates tell us that they have learned something new and will come back to Amsterdam again next time, then we’ve done a good job.”

Note that the fourth edition of GreenTech will not be taking place in 2020 but in 2019, as the organisers have decided to turn it into an annual international trade fair.

Summary

The third edition of GreenTech takes place in Amsterdam in mid-June. This year’s event will be bigger than the last one in 2016, both in terms of floor area and delegate numbers from the Netherlands and abroad. This time there will be even more focus on knowledge transfer and innovation: various themed pavilions will highlight topical issues in international greenhouse horticulture, and an independent Advisory Board will be keeping a close eye on the quality of the knowledge programme. The organisers have decided to switch to an annual event from 2019 onwards.

Text: Roger Abbenhuijs.

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