Meet the team

Mark van der Werf

Welcome to our ‘Meet the Team’ series! At Plant Empowerment, we believe that behind every successful endeavor, there’s a dedicated team of individuals who make it all happen. While you may know us for what we do as a company, it’s time to put faces to the names and share a glimpse of the personalities driving our mission forward.

We’re more than just a company; we’re a group of individuals committed to making a difference in our field.

Join us on this journey of discovery as we introduce the human side of Mark van der Werf, working as a Plant Health Consultant.

Published: November 2, 2023 Share?

Say hi 👋

My name is Mark van der Werf and I’m working one day a week for the Plant Empowerment Foundation as a technical consultant. Because we are working with a small team and we have a biweekly team meeting, more or less everybody knows constantly what is going on. But if things really get technical, then it is time for me to step up. This means I’m involved in the content of webinars and live courses, the agenda of the consultant meetings but also the start and follow up of an implementation project.

Previous career: cucumber & tomato grower 🥒

But as mentioned, I’m only working for the Plant Empowerment Foundation one day a week. The rest of the week I’m an independent consultant in various crops with a focus on plant health. But I haven’t been a consultant for all my working career. Until 10 years ago I was a cucumber and tomato grower. In my final years as a grower I was already connecting the dots with climate, substrate, nutrition (and biostimulants) and pest and disease control. I already figured out that the composition of the plant is crucial how pests and diseases appear on a plant. This means by measuring the composition of the plant with plant sap and adjusting nutrition accordingly, we could partly manage the infestation of many pests and/or diseases.

In 2016 I started working as a consultant and already quite soon I was working with a various group of growers who understood that we need to do thing differently in order to cope with all the issues we have. At the same time I got involved in the Plant Empowerment Foundation as a consultant representing nutrition, biostimulants and plant health. Together with the other consultants, we almost cover all growing aspects. This means we always have somebody in the team who is an expert on a specific topic.

Focus on nutrition facts

The last couple of years my focus moved more and more towards nutrition. Nutrition is  the factor that determines the composition of the plant. In many crops we are still using a quite traditional fertilizer schedule. The result is an abundance of nitrate in the plant and a lack of calcium, sulphate and trace elements (including silica). High nitrates in a plant make the plant soft and weak so easy to attack. At the same time it causes deficiencies of other minerals resulting in malfunctioning plant defense mechanisms. Besides good nutrition it is also important that we stimulate the interactions between plants and microbes. Important here is the kind of substrate we use or the use of biostimulants to create a good environment for microbes to thrive.

To get the ultimate result, it is important to play with all the growing factors. Because healthy plants not only need a balanced nutrition, they also need good climate control, prevention of outcoming radiation, a good irrigation strategy, a minimum amount of evaporation, etcetera. Only if all these factors are managed well, we get the ultimate result of a healthy plant.

Looking at nutrition, we already have made some major steps in some crops but at the same time we still have a lot to learn. I’m not afraid I will get bored the coming years while focusing on plant health. So if you listen to a webinar or follow one of the live sessions, always stay tuned for some new information, some tips or tricks or lessons learned. And don’t forget that a really healthy plant is not only free from insects and pathogens but also produces the highest production of the best quality. At the end healthy plants make healthy people.

Learn more about Plant Health and spread the philosophy in four in-depth sessions. Register here.

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Plant Health Consultant Plant Empowerment

Mark van der Werf