Sustainability has become natural to me
Jan Dieter Bruns

Sustainability has rapidly become the buzzword of the day. But it’s also much more than that. It is now a major concern in society, prompting customers to question nurseries about the sustainability of their products. Yet the products cultivated in nurseries are, by nature, among the most sustainable and long-living products.

The characteristics of plants are entirely positive: they produce oxygen, they are home to numerous insects, they regulate our urban climate, they provide shade and they are simply beautiful to look at.

We nurseries cultivate our trees with great care. The focus on quality is at the highest level. Quality means that the plants fulfil all the functions they are supposed to, whether in terms of the environment or aesthetics. These specifications, required by the customer, consequently set certain standards in production.

One of these standards is integrated plant protection. Of course, this factor of production we are always anxious to improve and reduce. Here we have the help of technology which has a targeted impact on plants or harmful organisms so that the customer receives healthy plant material. These plant protection measures are accompanied by mechanical agricultural activities, for example in order to minimise weeds. In addition to this, environmental antagonists are also used in the nursery. The same applies to substrates and nutrient supply which is optimally adapted to plant growth without having a harmful effect on the environment.

Sustainability also means selling the right plant to the customer. Our broad plant knowledge is a guarantee that customers will get the trees they really need.

Of course, we are constantly confronted with the question of the local origin of plants. For us, sustainability means being able to see the overall context of product cycles. The cultivation of plants at the ideal location, within an appropriate period of time, with the most efficient use of resources of a large-scale operation, often outweighs the supposed advantages of production close to the point of use. Also, logistics processes today are so optimised that the ecological footprint of transport over a medium distance can be lower than, for example, through small-scale production.

We, as nurserymen, know very well that customers are exposed to a variety of sustainability promises which are often unverified. It is no secret that some supposedly locally produced plants have their origins in other regions of Germany or Europe, and that is when certification is useful. It provides verifiable clarification on how the production takes place.

Today certificates with substantive informative value exist and it is useful for us as producers to keep asking ourselves the question; how we can make our production even more sustainable? Ultimately, we are guided by what the customer wants. In our experience with regard to eco-standards, different customer groups have different requirements and we, as a company must take all of them into account.

As nurserymen we are intrinsically connected with nature and concerned about its well-being. Nature is both our profession and our passion. Sustainability is one of the basic tools of every nurseryman. And, I must say, I feel this matter has now become natural to me.