Twente as testing ground for circular agriculture

The earth is getting depleted and the balance of the chain of giving and taking must be restored. Circular agriculture has significant potential to help recover the earth. Farm animal manure can be used to fertilize fields, for example. Twente is one of the five areas that will be experimenting with circular agriculture.

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In het kort

  • Circular agriculture is required to not deplete the earth.
  • Circular agriculture is producing with the least possible loss of raw materials and careful management of soil, water and nature. That means it is no longer focused on producing as much as possible for the lowest price.
  • Twente has been selected as one of the five experimental areas.
  • New solutions will be developed to explore the possibilities of circular agriculture.

Twente as the testing ground for the ‘Farm of the Future’. Go to twente.com/farm-of-the-future for more information. 

From sustainable to circular

The enormous environmental damage of our current food production will deplete the earth if we do not change. The way we currently produce food is unfavourable to the environment and the human population.

A fair chain

It goes beyond what the earth can give, Minister Schouten writes in her vision for the future of agriculture. “We must prevent us from depleting the soil, water and raw materials and raising the temperature on earth unacceptably.” To develop a sustainable food system, circular agriculture is needed. A fair chain, from which a revenue model will emerge. Currently, agriculture is aimed at reducing costs and increasing production, says Schouten. “In the Netherlands, this has come at the expense of biodiversity, the environment, the quality of drinking water and the attractiveness of the landscape.”

Future-proof agriculture

A change must come. Future-proof agriculture, which causes considerably less damage to the environment than the current practice, is the short-term ambition of the Netherlands. Challenges emerge: how can we produce more food for a larger population without increasing pressure on the environment? How do we ensure the recovery of the food system and reduce environmental disadvantages? The government will invest hundreds of millions of euros annually to support and stimulate farmers in our country in the transition to circular agriculture. Schouten believes that the agricultural sector should focus more on producing food with minimal effects on nature, the environment and the climate. To boost innovation, the minister will initially give farmers in five selected areas the possibility to deviate temporarily from provisions in legislation and regulations. Twente is one of these areas.

Experimenting

Among others, Minister Schouten is taking measures to reduce the use of fertilizers and to promote animal manure. In Twente, such experiments are being conducted in Mineral Valley. An example is the “Testing ground thin fraction of pig manure”, executed together with Wageningen University. We have sufficient pig manure in the region, but we supply fertilizer. Pig manure contains many minerals and other nutrients that are very healthy for the soil. In our testing ground, the effect of pig manure on the growth of the crops is measured, so that we can ultimately achieve a reduction in the use of artificial fertilizer. Other testing grounds of Mineral Valley are a counter for healthy breeding grounds and the sustainable cultivation of livestock crops.

What else?

Schouten also wants to increase the share of residual flows as a raw material for animal feed. Therefore, there will be a study on the quality of Dutch agricultural soils. Around 40 agricultural entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to use non-agricultural land for nature-inclusive operations.

Date: 19 June 2019
Author: Twente.com
Audio / video: Twente.com