Alternative sources of energy and their use in horticulture
Date and content
Day 1: 7 May 2012
Getting to know the participants
Each participant gives a brief PowerPoint presentation on the use of alternative energy sources (electricity production, heating, potential use in cultivation of ornamental plants and garden vegetables, use of animal manure in the production of biogas, etc.) in their country. The presentations are followed by a debate on the state of development of this activity in the participants' home countries. The debate is aimed at alerting the participants to the importance of using alternative energy sources for economic and private purposes as a possible replacement for traditional sources of energy which are increasing in price due to wide consumption and the related reduction in quantities available on the world market.
Lecture on alternative sources of energy (geothermal energy, solar energy, biogas)
Strengths and weaknesses of the use of alternative energy sources and their efficiency and possibility of transfer to every-day use (energy production, heating, cultivation of ornamental plants and garden vegetables in closed and open spaces). The lecture given by an external expert will be followed by a demonstration of the tools and devices available at the estate of the Biotechnical Centre Naklo and the use of these in the cultivation of ornamental plants and garden vegetables in greenhouses and gardens.
Day 2: 8 May 2012
Demonstration of traditional cultivation in greenhouses and outdoors through guided tours
Visit to the main horticultural amenity in Slovenia, Volčji Potok Arboretum. The participants will be shown the cultivation of annual, biennial and perennial plants, ornamental trees and shrubs, and other plants in covered greenhouses and open fields. The tour of the Arboretum will be led by its Head of Production, who will present the methods for ornamental plant cultivation and the connection between production efficiency and the use of alternative energy sources (irrigation, solar energy, heating).
Visit to the Eurogarden centre at Dobrova, where plants are cultivated and sold year-round, and the tree nurseries Rast Ljubljana and Breskvar (Podsmreka), both dedicated to cultivating ornamental trees and shrubs in the open field using traditional cultivation methods. The tree nurseries are the biggest establishments in Slovenia to grow ornamental trees and shrubs in the open ground. It is characteristic of these two nurseries that tree saplings grow for six months in the open ground, which is a challenge in terms of production efficiency due to the climatic conditions of Slovenia. The tour will be followed by a debate on whether such production is economically sound and whether it should be expanded, in the economic sense, to come closer to the comparable, highly developed tree nurseries of Western Europe.
Tour of Ljubljana – capital of Slovenia
Guided tour and presentation of the centre of Slovenia's capital; tour of the old city centre and its sights, a ride to the Ljubljana Castle with a funicular railway, and the tour of the Ljubljana Castle virtual museum.
Day 3: 9 May 2012
Guided tours aimed at presenting the actual use of alternative energy sources in production
A tour of the plant production facility at Dobrovnik (Ocean Orchids). The participants will be shown the cultivation of orchids of the Phalenopsis gender at Dobrovnik, where geothermal energy has long been used to heat the greenhouses. Geothermal energy as the cleanest source of heating is also the most economically viable as it decreases the cost of production significantly, thereby improving the long—term efficiency of the entire facility.
Although the conditions in Slovenia are not ideal for the cultivation of plants which are extremely demanding in terms of temperature (despite different climatic conditions of Prekmurje, higher temperatures and lower precipitation), this source of energy has made the cultivation system in this part of Slovenia economically feasible and efficient. The tour will be followed by a debate on renewable energy sources for heating, e.g. geothermal water, with the owners of the company Ocean Orchids. They will present their views on this economic branch and discuss the threats and opportunities of plant production in this part of Europe, in comparison with production in the Netherlands as the world's greatest producer of orchids.
Tour of the biogas production facility Gjerkeš and its power plant with an output of 1MW. After the tour, the participants will be invited to see the production of energy from animal manure and organic waste. In this part of Slovenia we will also see the company Florina Maribor, which used to specialize in the production of ornamental and fruit trees but has had to reduce its production capacity due to high labour and energy costs. The manager of the tree nursery will discuss with the participants the possibilities of introducing alternative energy sources to lower the production costs.
Tour of local cultural attractions
Day 4: 10 May 2012
Lecture on photovoltaic
Lecture on photovoltaic technology (use of solar energy), its benefits and advantages. Practical presentation of the possibilities for using solar energy for every-day purposes.
Presentation of horticultural company Humko d.o.o. and marketing of their products
The lecture will be followed by a presentation of Profesionalna vrtnarska družba (PVD; Professional Garden Association), which is based in Gorenjsko and joins the gardeners from all Slovenia. We will discuss their marketing strategy, joint performance on the market, and joint trademark – Humko. PVD is an association of gardening companies specializing in the production of ornamental plants, wood chips and substrates. They will present their views about the European associations, their consequences for this economic branch, sales strategy and the related use of alternative energy sources in cutting production costs, which represent the highest cost item in a company.
Day 5: 11 May 2012
Cultivation of cacti
On the last day of the workshop, the participants will visit a cactus production facility at Seča near Portorož, which became the new home of a family who wanted to maintain production of this extremely thermophile plant. As the facility is located at the most ideal point in Slovenia as regards this activity, at just a few meters above sea level, the cactuses receive the highest number of sun radiation hours and the lowest amount of precipitation, which are the prerequisites for cactus cultivation. Production is economically viable, for it enables the use of natural, traditional energy sources.
The participants will take a tour of the Sečovlje Salina and the Museum of Salt-Making as the main natural/cultural attraction of the area. Salt is produced here with traditional, fully natural methods. The tour will end with a visit to a private company Korenika Moškon, which deals with the production of ornamental plants, vegetables, and refošk wine.
End of workshop
The day will end with a closing meeting, reports and evaluation of the workshop.
The closing ceremony will be followed with a tasting of local wines and Slovenian culinary delights.