Battlefield Farms Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation Of The Year

Battlefield Farms Company shotBattlefield Farms, No. 31 on Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Grower list, is recipient of Greenhouse Grower’s Excellence In Innovation award and one of three finalists for 2016 Operation Of The Year. It is a state-of-the art facility located in Rapidan, VA, highly focused on sustainability and quality crop production and recipient of . Current owners Anthony and Bobby van Hoven grew up in the business, working with their father Gerritt van Hoven, who started the operation in 1990, growing annuals.

Annuals are the heart and soul of Battlefield Farms, accounting for 70% of sales. The company provides them for large retailers like Lowe’s Home Improvement and multiple grocery chains. A perennial liner and bareroot program accounts for another 25% of sales. The operation also works with greenhouses that are limited on space, storing their perennial plugs in coolers for vernalizing so they can get a second turn out of their space.

As Battlefield Farms expanded from its original 6 acres to 1,960,200 square feet of environmentally controlled space, the need grew to become more efficient while still providing the optimal environment for growing plants. In 2010, advised by their head grower Marco Verdel, Battlefield started looking into an MPS-ABC Certification program as a way to determine what level of efficiency the company was operating at and its impact on the environment, and to provide sustainability information to its customers.

MPS (More Profitable Sustainability) is an environmental accountability program that scores growers based on their reported use of crop protection agents, water and recycling, energy consumption, and fertilizers and pesticides. Battlefield Farms started off with a C grade from MPS and worked its way up to an A, which it has maintained for the last year or so, and now stands one point away from the top ranking of an A+. Anthony says initially it was a big adjustment and a lot of work to record everything the operation did, but it was well worth the effort. The procedure helped the company streamline production processes and become more efficient and organized. As a result, the company has saved money and moved away from using harmful chemicals, and the operation is now neonicotinoid-free.

“Working through MPS helped us maximize everything we do in our operations and reach secondary goals of leading the way in being ‘greener’ and getting rid of everything that leaves a harsh footprint on the environment,” Anthony says.

Battlefield Farms has not only led the way in educating its customers about sustainability, it has shared what it has learned with the industry at large. The company has also partnered with multiple universities and organizations to teach prospective and established growers about the green industry’s environmental impact.

Through its research and development department, Battlefield has implemented several technological advances, including the introduction of biological controls as an alternative to synthetic chemical usage, and the use of light emitting diodes (LEDs) for improved rooting and acclimation rates with perennials. Specifically, with tissue culture, it has achieved a 32% decrease in losses with acclimating heuchera liners. This advance is the latest addition, resulting from a continued focus on embracing new technology and innovation.

Battlefield’s research and development department plays a key role in helping the company become more efficient as a business and adapt to new technologies. One new development that has come out of the department is Battlefield’s nematode program. The company has started rearing its own nematodes for its biocontrol program and has found that extracting them directly from the host is sometimes more effective than typical packaged products.

“We determined that nematodes, applied through our irrigation systems, are one of the easiest biologicals to use when compared to other live predators because they are concentrated in liquid,” Anthony says. “We focused on four different species of nematodes to aid in control of fungus gnat, shore fly, and western flower thrips all during the year at different temperatures. We are to the point, within the next year, where our section growers will be able to decanter their liquid nematode concentrate directly from temperature controlled bubbled vats. Also, the idea of having a constant stream of nematodes through our entire irrigation system has been discussed as a true sustainable preventative IPM buffer. With greater understanding of these organisms, new possibilities continue to surface.”

“The initial investment in new technology hurts, as most growers know,” Anthony says. “What we are trying to do is provide for our customers in the future. You have to be willing to make the initial investment that it takes to install these things before you start seeing the benefits from them if you want to be around five to 10 years from now.”

Of course, van Hoven says none of the many things Battlefield Farms has accomplished would be possible without a dedicated team working together to keep the company in a progressive state. Its employees make that happen.

“Receiving the sustainability award and being nominated as a finalist for Operation of the Year is a 100% testament to the team we have here and how hard they work,” he says. “God has blessed our company with the opportunities we have, and we are trying to make the most of them. It is great to have your peers recognize that you are working hard and trying to make a difference.”

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Finance/Operations...
Dual Income No Kids (DINK) Young Couple

April 10, 2018

Make Plans to Attend the NICH Annual Conference in Atlanta in June

Everyone in every aspect of consumer horticulture is invited to attend and help create a unified, strategic plan around industry-wide priorities.

Read More
2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society Field Trials

March 31, 2018

Save the Date for the 2018 Northeast Greenhouse Conference

This year’s conference takes place Nov. 7-8, 2018, and offers growers a great opportunity to learn, share, and connect with other industry professionals.

Read More
NatureFresh-Farms-Leamington-Expansion

March 27, 2018

NatureFresh Further Expands Greenhouse Tomato Production in Canada

Construction of a new, 32-acre greenhouse facility will commence in the summer of 2018, with production scheduled to begin in 2019.

Read More
Latest Stories

January 31, 2018

Online Education Empowers Employees to Succeed

See how UF/IFAS online certificate courses helped employees at Costa Farms get ahead with their jobs.

Read More
Money-feature

January 25, 2018

Why It’s Critical to Understand Your Real Costs o…

It’s time to stop guessing and start calculating when it comes to finding out what your real cost of production is, and pricing products accordingly.\

Read More
Tax-Money

January 23, 2018

Learn How the New Tax Law Will Affect Your Greenhouse B…

AmericanHort will co-host a free “Comprehending the New Tax Law: webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 31, with K-Coe Isom, a national tax consulting leader.

Read More

January 15, 2018

Missouri Greenhouse Grower John Tomasovic Dies

The patriarch of Tomasovic Greenhouses & Nursery, Inc. in Des Peres, MO, was a legend in the plant industry, and widely involved in many associations.

Read More

January 15, 2018

Perennials Icon Louis Stacy Dies

The founder of the former Stacy's Greenhouses in York, SC, passed away on Wednesday, January 10, 2018.

Read More
Charlie Hall Feature Image

January 9, 2018

AmericanHort Launches New Video Series on Profit Margin…

This week, AmericanHort is kicking off a four-part video series that offers perspectives on managing profit margins from AmericanHort’s Chief Economist, Dr. Charlie Hall.

Read More
Tax-Money

January 9, 2018

What You Need to Know About the New Tax Bill

The United Fresh Produce Association, which represents the needs and interests of fruit and vegetable growers, recently updated its members on how the recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act might affect their businesses. Many of the insights provided by United Fresh also apply to greenhouse growers and nurseries.

Read More
Doug Cole, Owner of D.S. Cole Growers

January 4, 2018

D.S. Cole Growers Blazes Its Own Path to Growth

Known for its commitment to sustainability and innovation, this grower is one of the pioneering trailblazers changing the way horticulture does business.

Read More

December 31, 2017

Ag Exemption for New Trucking Regulation Still Under Re…

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s trucking electronic logging device mandate, which took effect on December 18, includes an Hours of Service exemption that may or may not apply to greenhouses and nurseries.

Read More
Tillandsia Air Plants (Plantiflor)

December 15, 2017

Bonsall Nursery Devastated By California Wildfire

Rainforest Flora lost its main greenhouses and outdoor growing property in the Lilac Fire in San Diego.

Read More

December 9, 2017

Southern California Wildfires Narrowly Miss Most Grower…

Here’s an update on horticulture businesses in the areas affected by the California wildfires.

Read More

December 5, 2017

Skagit Horticulture Builds New, Inclusive Business With…

By merging two large-scale producers, Skagit Gardens and Northwest Horticulture, the new company has realized its strengths through focused divisions that emphasize efficiency and success.

Read More

December 4, 2017

Raker-Roberta’s Young Plants Debuts as Roberta’s Finali…

On December 1, Eric Wallien of Roberta’s Inc. in Waldron, IN, officially purchased C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, MI. The new identity of the company is now Raker-Roberta’s Young Plants, according to a Dec. 1 letter to Raker’s customers, suppliers, and business partners from Vice President Susie Raker-Zimmerman. “There have been minimal changes in management and we will be providing the same products and services on which we have built our reputation in the industry,” Raker-Zimmerman said in the letter, which also announced the name change and new logo. The sale of C. Raker & Sons was announced in September . A series of events affecting Raker’s financial situation caused the need for the operation to find an alternate solution. Roberta’s had been a customer of Raker’s since 2011, and the fourth generation, family owned grower-retailer was a fan of Raker’s commitment to quality. The agreement to purchase C. […]

Read More

October 10, 2017

Sharpen Your Skills in Cost Management and Profitabilit…

The University of Florida is offering a new online course on costing and profitability. The course will take growers through the process of how to accurately evaluate cost of production, labor efficiency, pricing, and equipment investment decisions.

Read More
Willoway Nurseries Team

October 1, 2017

How Willoway Nurseries Gets Its Staff Engaged in The Co…

Willoway Nurseries in Avon, OH, is creating a culture with people who think, act, and feel like owners. Learn how its team is taking the business to the next level.

Read More

September 21, 2017

Horticulture Is All About Connections

The beauty of our industry is that we are more than willing to reach out and help those around us. What connections can you make today to help your business, and what can you offer to help another grower?

Read More
Worker taking cuttings at Vivero Internacional.

September 11, 2017

Vivero Internacional Elevates Clean Cuttings to New Hei…

One of the last independent cutting operations, this fast-growing company raises the standard for delivering clean, high-quality unrooted cuttings.

Read More
Selecta Sponsor bed at Raker trial gardens

September 5, 2017

C. Raker & Sons Acquired By Roberta’s Unique Garden…

Ownership will change hands in December, and Raker will supply young plants for the 2018 season. Beyond that, leadership of the two operations say they are excited to move forward with a partnership that will continue to supply the industry, and gardeners, with top-quality plants.

Read More