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Interview Casey Houweling


51077685 smal - Interview Casey Houweling - KUBO

How do you grow 365 days a year where the market is? Casey Houweling told us how on Skype. Over a period of ten years, he built 20 hectares of greenhouses in British Columbia, Canada. Because he was unable (then) to grow all the year round, he expanded his business with a further 50 hectares in California. It was there that he and KUBO pioneered the Ultra-Clima greenhouse concept – a greenhouse that was not just the answer to plagues of insects but also opened the door to the hostile growing climate of Utah. Now, with an 11 hectare water and energy-efficient greenhouse, he serves the Salt Lake City area ‘local-for-local’. A story of 31 years of continuous innovation, with KUBO.

“In 1985, I visited Holland to speak to all sorts of growers and to hear how they worked and with whom. It might be nice to mention that my father was an immigrant from the Netherlands who came to Canada in 1956 to grow flowers. If you want the most up-to-date know-how on market gardening, you really have to be in the Netherlands. That’s how we got in contact with KUBO. We had a good feeling about them straight away and that turned out to be justified. Since then, they’ve built greenhouses for us at 20 locations and we’re still looking at what might be done better. So I’m actually a field lab for innovation.”


casey header 160111 025 sm.jpg?center=0.6484375,0 - Interview Casey Houweling - KUBO

“Our collaboration started at the end of the eighties when we were inundated with whitefly in California. It was so bad that we called it the ‘eleventh plague’. It meant that we had to fit screens in the ventilation windows of the greenhouses but I didn’t like the idea. Screens filter out 15% of the light and that costs you 15% of the production. They also get dirty and have to be cleaned, and they reduce ventilation. So I wanted to work with KUBO on a way of keeping insects out without any of the disadvantages. That was the start of what we now call the Ultra-Clima concept. In this, we work with an active, controlled ventilation system that uses only 4% of the screens that are usually used in a standard greenhouse. Positive pressure in the greenhouse also ensures that insects cannot fly inside through an open door. The active ventilation also enabled us to regulate the humidity in the greenhouse with cooling pads. In 2006, KUBO built the first prototype and after that every innovation led to the next. Now, all my greenhouses are Ultra-Clima and I can grow everywhere 365 days a year.”


“The great thing about the Ultra-Clima technology is that you can overcome every climate with minimal energy costs and water consumption. This means that I can continue growing even in the Californian summer, which was impossible before owing to the temperature, strong winds and 10% humidity. But what was even better is that I was able to expand into the hostile growing climate in Utah. There’s an excellent market there with Salt Lake City, and it fits the social need for ‘local-for-local’. There was a natural gas power plant a hundred kilometres to the south that produces two sorts of waste: residual heat and CO2. And I need both of those for growing. So I moved close to the power plant with 11.5 hectares of greenhouses. I now tap off the residual heat and CO2 that would otherwise disappear into the atmosphere and this supplies almost 100% of my needs. I see the future of farming as producing close to the customer with minimal use of energy, water and raw materials.”



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