Kaufland is now offering its customers lettuce from Germany’s most modern lettuce greenhouse. In Willich, North Rhine-Westphalia, the Thijssen family operates a greenhouse on the Rheinlandhof with an innovative cultivation technique that has hardly ever been used in Europe before.
Instead of being grown in native soil, the lettuces at Rheinlandhof are grown in several large ponds. On these ponds, the lettuce plants grow on floating plates. The advantages of pond culture cultivation are clear, especially in terms of sustainability: Since not a drop of water escapes from the pond system, cultivation saves 90 percent of water compared to field cultivation. Due to dissolved nutrients in the water, the lettuce plants have ideal growing conditions and require 75 percent less fertilizer.
Furthermore, the closed system does not pollute groundwater. In addition, they are protected from the weather and find a constant temperature, which minimizes crop failure and allows lettuce to be produced year-round. In this way, up to 10 million lettuces with root balls can be harvested throughout the year on an area of approximately four soccer fields.
“With issues such as climate change, water scarcity or the energy transition, agriculture and especially vegetable growing are facing challenging times. Consequently, we are focusing on even more regional products, which we grow throughout the year in Germany in a way that conserves resources as much as possible. Our cooperation with Rheinlandhof is an ideal example of this, showing that state-of-the-art innovation and regional cultivation on a family farm can be a very good combination,” says Stefan Lukes, Managing Director Purchasing Fruit and Vegetables at Kaufland.
“With our greenhouse, we want to revolutionize vegetable cultivation in Germany. Pond culture cultivation is not only climate-friendly, but also less labor-intensive thanks to state-of-the-art automation technology and can thus be used almost everywhere in vegetable cultivation,” says producer Harrold Thijssen from Rheinlandhof.