Monday, 2 April 2012


Yes, I am home from the Contemporary Scholars Conference. ( I have also finished writing "I must blog regularly" 1000 times!). Following are some very brief  reflections from what was just an amazing couple of weeks. I'm still a bit lost for words....

CSC Netherlands
25 Feb
Landscape tour, including a visit to a dairy farm after eating the obligatory herring, a challenge for some!
The intensity of the landscape is almost confronting, the land is totally utilized virtually to the doorstep of the houses. Around the towns, there is no buffer between the town or industrial buildings and farmland, which seems to be too valuable to run livestock. The dairy farm visited, house the cows all year, conserving fodder on the fields around.

It's the centre of wind power, towers can be seen in almost any direction across the flat landscape, between the drainage dykes, as we were up to 7 m below sea level at times.

A biogas setup, the methane is produced in the large tanks, with the wind turbine behind.
 Bio digesters are part of many farms, as they provide a means of disposing of the large quantities of manure produced. This, blended with food and processing wastes, creates methane, in turn running converted diesel motors and generators. The electricity is fed into the grid, the heat from the engine providing hot water for heating houses in the vicinity. Everything is used!
 The next day, was a slightly later start, a blessing for the scholars still suffering jet lag after the journey from either Australia or New Zealand. Following an optional church service, the introductions of all scholars   occurred. (I  was unaware of the fact that there are multiple centers of the  universe, apparently, many located in central Queensland!) Definitely  a confirmation of the calibre of Nuffield Scholars worldwide.

After an early start, we loaded into busses to send the day at Flora Holland, the massive co-op which sells 98% of the Dutch cut flowers every day. The co-op model seems to be highly successful in the Netherlands, maybe a slight cultural difference as cooperation must have been required to reclaim and drain the land.

Part of the 120 ha under roof. Flowers are auctioned and can be purchased by the individual bucket.
The highlights just kept coming, with a cruise of  the Rotterdam harbour. We seemed to slide past the massive container  ships and barges for hours while we ate dinner and discussed issues covered during the preceding days. The scale of the harbour is truly mind blowing.....

Another early start and after some time spent in a traffic jam, we were hosted at a pig farm. Presentations on pork production as well as insights into selling to such huge market. It gives a very different spin on niche marketing to that which we are accustomed in Australia and especially Tasmania, where we think of niche being small. Targeting a small segment of the market in Europe still means potentially selling to millions of customers.
We also had an explanation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), its origins and likely future direction. It thew up many and varied opinions from within the scholars, an active topic of discussion for many hours over lunches and dinners!!

Intensive crop! The Netherlands is, of course known for its glasshouses. 4 days from planting to harvest  would be great..

Our last day in the Netherlands was at a Cress producer. Actually, that goes nowhere near to describing what we saw ! The theme for the day was Marketing and Innovations in Dutch Agribusiness, and the Dutch must surely be some of the most innovative and progressive intensive producers anywhere. 

The venue- a kitchen film studio, beautifully appointed.
A huge congratulations to the organisers behind the Dutch part of the CSC. It is obvious a massive amount of work went into this event, we all had an incredible time. Perceptions were challenged, ideas gained, thoughts and discussions have been, for me at least, pushed to a new level, what a start to the Nuffield experience!
Next stop- London. The question was, could the standard be maintained?
To be continued........

No comments:

Post a Comment