September 28, 2022, Region – Water naturally has a warm heart for farmers. “It is necessary to switch to crops that are less harmful to the water environment. Less pollution is good for the Water Board’s goals and for the sake of human health and the environment. Water Of course, farmers who work with this would like to provide financial support and encouragement … ” Read more >>
The Louis Bolk Institute has been researching sustainable agriculture, food and health for 45 years. Nature and the farmers’ pioneers are a source of inspiration. With practical knowledge, they help farmers to become more sustainable. So says Merel Hondebrink, researcher in Sustainable Soil Management at the Louis Bolk Institute.
Farmers’ motivation is the basis for sustainability. Financial support can help with this.
“Due to social pressure and politics, mainstream companies need to move more towards sustainability. There is much to learn here from, among other things, the farmers whose farms are based on ecological principles. At first only production was considered, now more and more sustainability is on the agenda. Fortunately, more and more farmers are becoming aware of this fact.
It is difficult for them to switch to another business operation, partly because they are stuck in a certain economic system: economic feasibility then depends on the scale. This creates larger companies that work more impersonally. Scaling up is not always good for sustainability goals. It is becoming increasingly difficult for farmers to make money, there is a lot of paperwork and regulations in addition to the physical part of being a farmer.
It is important for us to enter into dialogue with the farmer himself. At the kitchen table, they can indicate where they get their energy from: soil quality, insects or the birds, or a highly technical farmer who wants more precision farming. By participating in this conversation, you will get a better picture of what is going on. If you hear what they all face, you can look for solutions together.”
Land for water management
A well-functioning soil is important for food production. It is also good for water management. In agricultural soils, CO can2 stored and it helps to mitigate the effects of climate change. Such soil can also contain a lot of water, which helps absorb extreme rainfall.
“If you have good soil, it can absorb peak showers like a sponge. More and more parties are investigating how to jointly store water in an area. Point out something jointly with a number of farmers. This is being done in Zeeland. The question is then , how you bring that water back to the various parcels in the collective.
There has been research into the storage of CO for several years now2 in agricultural land. What is becoming increasingly important in combination with carbon sequestration is the use of residual streams. In our country, around 33 trucks of coffee grounds are made available every day. This can possibly be used as a soil conditioner and partially replace fertiliser. Fertilizer is expensive and production requires a lot of energy.
Many farmers are interested in soil quality, in the structure of the root formation, which you can correlate with water, which you take with you integrated. The first focus is on land. It is important to use the interest of the farmers, the way to the goal does not matter, as long as you get there. You can only work integrated. They are all systems within a larger system. An area-oriented approach is therefore becoming increasingly important. The Louis Bolk Institute is working on this, among other things, in Buijtenland van Rhoon. Together with farmers, conservationists and governments. The question then is, how can you use it effectively, how do you all go in the same direction. A good challenge.”
Initiatives such as Buijtenland van Rhoon contribute to human health and a better environment, which is also a task for the Water Council. That is why these kinds of initiatives deserve financial support from the Water Council.
Konnie Wilkens, for Water Naturally Dutch Delta