The Netherlands is the 2nd agricultural exporter in the world (94B), after the US (150B), a country 235 times bigger and 20 times more people. The reason why the Netherlands is so successful lies in several factors: abundant availability of water, flat land perfectly suitable for horticulture, the Netherlands are surrounded by much larger potent customers (Germany, France, UK), excellent infrastructure, making it easy to transport agricultural produce, extreme openness towards new technologies to increase production.
A large number of agricultural workers are from Eastern Europe, but that supply of competitive labor is receding, now that the economies of Eastern Europe are growing rapidly, offering many new attractive opportunities. Poles, Bulgarians and Romanians increasingly prefer to stay at home. This leaves the Dutch agricultural sector with a new problem, a problem that can be solved though… with robotics. Few economic activities are so repetitive as agricultural activities and hence suitable for automation.
Have a cup of coffee while that driverless potato-harvester brings in tons of produce.
Automated grapes picking in Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Precision agriculture with drones. Every individual plant is analysed from above for nitrogen needs and fertilization is applied if needed on a per plant basis. Additionally soil pH-measurements are carried out for the same purpose: precision fertilization to optimize the yield of a given piece of land.
[source] The Netherlands are not that far behind the US. Secret of success: technology.
First map the fields from the air, next fertilize and/or weed control with a 2 cm precision, all automatic, without human intervention.
[humboldt.global] – Top 10 agricultural exporters
[rijksoverheid.nl] – Nederlandse export landbouwproducten in 2019 €94,5 miljard
An important key to the Dutch agricultural success are the large amounts of industrial CO2 that is injected in the greenhouses to enhance growth. CO2 = plant fertilizer.
Philips LED-light replacing the sun in the winter, providing a 365 day/year growing season.