2021 is bringing new faces to Van Iperen International. We continue expanding our team with a new colleague in the Product Development and Agronomy department. We are glad to welcome Christian Hubener, Agronomist and Crop Consultant based in Australia.
Fitting his role in Van Iperen International, Christian will assist our Sales manager and partners in the area. But that’s not all. Thanks to his professional experience, he will take an active role in different projects, such as GreenSwitch®. In the transition towards sustainable agriculture, these projects will add up new alternative solutions to Van Iperen International’s current offer.
Do you want to get to know Christian Hubener better? He took some time to answer our questions.
- Can you tell us more about your career as a crop consultant?
Christian Hubener: I started my career as a consultant giving technical follow-up of pome and stone fruit orchards in Europe and Maghreb. It was in this context that I met Acadian Seaplants Ltd. and became interested in biostimulants and more particularly in seaweed. Then I started to cooperate as a crop consultant for Acadian for more than 20 years traveling the world to support distributors and growers with technical support.
- Based on your background, what are the biggest challenges agriculture is facing nowadays?
Christian Hubener: Globalization has brought growers to different goals: either through large organized structures that can meet the requirements of the international market by seeking quality, varietal differentiation, high yields, marketing support, and dynamic commercialization oriented towards export. At the same time, we see the development of small structures promoting direct sales, insisting on traceability, and offering the consumer a quality product while guaranteeing health safety. In recent years this trend has grown strongly and the entire profession is moving towards healthier production for the consumer.
Following this approach and an evolving lifestyle, large-scale retailers offer their customers quality guarantees by imposing standard specifications, integrated control, Global Gap, eco-responsible orchards, zero residues, and of course organic farming. To date, the evolution is exponential and the challenge for growers is to adapt the growing practices to this trend.
- These challenges have a huge impact on growers’ needs. How are these changing circumstances affecting growers and how, according to you, is Van Iperen International answering those needs?
Christian Hubener: Today the growers need support allowing them to meet market demand and develop good agricultural practices. This means integrating soil management, inputs reduction, customized protection and nutrition programs, irrigation management, and the use of High Performing Solutions for sustainable agriculture and Van Iperen International is their partner in this transition.
- Among others, climate change is one of the most threatening concerns in agriculture. How can we mitigate the effects of climate change on crops?
Christian Hubener: Indeed, global warming has visible consequences on agriculture in general. Recent studies show that the cycles of perennial crops suffer this shortage from year to year. Several actions are needed to face these changes while waiting for a collective awareness, which consists in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and controlling carbon footprint in general; management and optimization of water use, reducing desertification, adaptation of species and varieties to these new environmental conditions, diversification of landscapes (reintroduction of hedges and shrubs), maintain vegetal cover (grass in vineyards and orchards) and introduce systematically biostimulants in fertilization programs.
- Sustainable agriculture is one of the answers to those challenges, how is, according to you, Van Iperen International ready to answer those challenges?
Christian Hubener: Indeed, to meet the expectations of consumers, sustainable agriculture is the agriculture of the future and will eventually replace so-called conventional agriculture. It will make it possible to participate in the collective effort necessary for the respect of future generations, allowing to feed a population in full expansion.
Van Iperen International is part of this process thanks to the development of High Performing Solutions by supporting distributors and growers offering performant foliar, soil, and fertigation products allowing to reduce inputs while maintaining yields and quality requirements. Among other innovations, Plants for Plants® the new generation of biostimulants are able to mitigate abiotic stresses and maintain the genetic potential of species and varieties while being organic and sustainable. GreenSwitch® offers a unique solution of new generation fertilizers derived from organic sources.
- Talking about GreenSwitch®, can you explain what makes this project so innovative?
Christian Hubener: GreenSwitch® corresponds completely to the current approach. This is a Nitrate fertilizer from organic origin with a close to zero Carbon footprint, plus the long-term target to create local production facilities in the various markets. GreenSwitch® Technology uses Nitrogen out of manure to produce a high-value Nitrate solution suitable for fertigation and foliar application, which is called up-cycling. This technology grafted onto the production of biogas is a real change in the fields of energy and sustainable agriculture.
I am particularly proud and enthusiastic to integrate the Van Iperen International team and to be able to modestly participate in this coming new agricultural age.