Stefan and Beatrice Fässler have been running a modern horticultural business in Romanshorn (Thurgau), Switzerland, since 1988. With today's greenhouses, they can heat a surface area five times larger with the same heating system than they could before. Also, in the past, the shading, energy screens (for heat regulation) and the ventilation system had to be adjusted by hand, which was a lot of work.
Today, the climate computer regulates all of this. "What has hardly changed at all, however, are the prices of the lettuces," Fässler points out. The employees' wages, however, have risen, he says. "So the fact that we still earning money is achieved through good seeds, rational management, larger quantities and a good culture and plant protection strategy," he said in an interview with the Verband Thurgauer Landwirtschaft.
Swiss quality regulations for vegetables
It takes good management and specialized staff every day to produce optimal quality. But Fässler is relatively relaxed about this: "We have the possibility to sell products that do not quite meet the standard in the farm store. For example, lettuces that are not quite perfect on the outside are prepared and sold as lettuce hearts."
Delivering top grade goods is a competition among producers, trade and sales. Quality standards were set as early as the 1970s. Fässler also knows that customers are more likely to be won over with perfect-looking vegetables. That means there are standards to be adhered to.
Managing Director Stefan Fässler
Photo: Daniel Thür/Verband Thurgauer Landwirtschaft
Environmentally friendly production
Thanks to modern greenhouses, production can be very energy-conscious. This means that almost 90% of the water used for the crops consists of rainwater. "Tap water is only needed for washing the vegetables, because it is germ-free. We need 700 to 1000 m3 of tap water per year, which is equivalent to the consumption of an apartment building with five apartments. We are on the way to produce the vegetables CO2-free". Two heat pumps have already been installed, and a second photovoltaic system is also under construction. This supplies the electricity for the water pump and the cooler in the greenhouse.
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