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Accepted Paper:

Caring for and with plants to improve surface water quality in Dutch horticultural practices  
Fenna Smits (University of Amsterdam) Rebeca Ibañez Martin (Meertens Institute)

Paper Short Abstract:

What are the implications and affordances of transitioning to multispecies care in Dutch horticultural practices? How do various forms of multispecies entanglements, knowledge, and caring practices challenge the modernist ambition to control more-than-human life in Greenhouses?

Paper Abstract:

The 'Emissieloze Kas', or Emission-Free Greenhouse, is a novel framework currently under development in the Netherlands. The agreement aims to implement measures that will nearly eliminate nutrient and product emissions from greenhouse horticulture by 2027. To do so, horticultural farmers experiment with novel, multispecies, ways to care for and with plants.

In this article, we contrast two approaches to transitioning to an Emission-Free Greenhouse: (1) efforts in the Emission-Free Greenhouse are rooted in modernist aims to “control” nature through automation, artificial intelligence, and precise identification of leakages; and (2) efforts in the Emission-Free Greenhouse are rooted in multispecies experiments that aim to find the right balance between elements beneficial and detrimental to life in and around the greenhouse.

Based on multi-sited ethnography in the Netherlands horticultural landscape, we argue that, while some technologies—what we refer to as “modernist”—emphasize the idea of technological fixes and control, privileging human health, other technologies—what we term “multispecies care”—seek to prevent plant diseases and minimize reliance on fertilizers and chemicals by sensitizing monitoring technologies to the specific and often elusive needs of plant species and microbial communities inhabiting the greenhouse.

As we elucidate the diverse ways greenhouse growers navigate the affordances and limitations posed by these technologies in their interactions with more-than-human greenhouse actors, our inquiry delves into various forms of multispecies care that challenge the ideal of controlling life within greenhouses. We explore how these entanglements give rise to new modes of knowing, caring, and relating with plants and microbes in a technology-driven environment.

Panel P196
Uncertain methods, elusive lives: exploring the methodological and relational horizons of doing research with more-than-humans
  Session 3 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -