Discover how "Farmer & Business in Balance" innovates agriculture through interdisciplinary collaboration focused on sustainability and nature inclusiveness.
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boundarycrossing

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consultancy

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interdisciplinary

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programmanagement

Innovation in Nature-Inclusive Farming

Discover how "Farmer & Business in Balance" innovates agriculture through interdisciplinary collaboration focused on sustainability and nature inclusiveness.

Timeframe

2018 - The program for nature-inclusive agriculture in North Holland started in 2018. This initiative focuses on promoting agricultural practices that improve both biodiversity, soil fertility and water quality by integrating natural processes into agricultural operations.

2019 - After a programmatic start-up period, the design of an innovation program for chain innovation accompanied by an investment program began. We opted for a comprehensive and intensive hackathon.

2020 - The four-year research program on the effect of, for example, not underworking stringy farmyard manure in cauliflower cultivation started in 2020. This project is conducted by Amsterdam Green Campus in collaboration with local farmers and educational institutions, with the aim of assessing the impact of this fertilization method on various aspects of agricultural sustainability.

Role

As a partner within cooperative DOON in collaboration with national and provincial network partners design and implement an interdisciplinary program to accelerate the transition to nature-inclusive agriculture. Train young professionals from the province as innovation coaches, advise the program managers nature-inclusive agriculture on the transition approach with partners from the regional ecosystem.

Objective

Stimulate chain innovation and cooperation between various disciplines to develop practical solutions to the transition and transformation issues within nature-inclusive agriculture.

Tasks and Responsibilities

- Design and organization of interdisciplinary and supporting program (the hackathon);

- Transitiational consultancy for the follow-up of the program;

- Advising on the implementation of solutions.

Core Values in Practice

The primary focus was on sustainability, collaboration and chain innovation, essential for the transition to a nature-inclusive agricultural practice that contributes to biodiversity and ecological balance. Looking across borders in a focused way and realizing synergy benefits through chain innovation from an ecological and societal perspective.

Impact and Results

Flexible Fertilization:

Development of adaptive fertilization strategies that contribute to soil health without negative environmental impacts.

Multi-Year Flower Edging:

Implementation of biodiversity-promoting flower borders around fields.

Shoreline Protection:

Innovations in riparian protection that reduce erosion and support biodiversity.

Sustainable cauliflower production:

Introduction of methods for above ground application of solid manure, with a focus on improved soil structure and reduced environmental impact.

Sustainable cultivation practices:

Development of practices that reduce soil compaction and improve climate resilience.

Market expansion of organic products:

Strategies for increasing the market for organic products.

Closed cycles:

Insights into closing cycles at the regional level, such as on Texel.

Closed-loop strategies:

Formulation of regional strategies for closed-loop agriculture.


Learning moments

The program highlighted the importance of cross-sector collaboration and local adaptation in promoting sustainable agriculture. Crucial system barriers were identified during the multi-year research, including the importance of proactive involvement of legal and administrative disciplines from the earliest stages of the research program. Although these were already involved in the Hackathon program, they have not been sufficiently involved in the itnerdisciplinary research of the Green Campus Metropolis Region Amsterdam.

Skills

Project management, stakeholder engagement, sustainable agricultural business practices, policy influence.

References

Province of North Holland:

As the driving force behind nature-inclusive agriculture in the region, the Province of North Holland funds and supports initiatives that promote the integration of natural processes in agriculture, with the goal of a biodiverse and sustainable agricultural sector by 2030. Click here tot visit their website

Nature and Environment Federation North Holland (MNH):

MNH actively works to improve nature and the environment in North Holland by fostering collaboration with farmers, scientists and civil society organizations aimed at implementing nature-inclusive agricultural practices that contribute to a more sustainable province. Click here to visit their website

Green Capital:

Initiative of the Province of North Holland, Green Capital encourages innovation and collaboration in the green sector and plays a key role in promoting sustainable and nature-inclusive agricultural projects aimed at economic growth and environmental sustainability within the province.

- Click here to visit the website of the networking platform

- Click here to visit the special website on the Nature Inclusive Agriculture theme

- Click here to visit the special website for the outcomes on the chain innovation program

Amsterdam Green Campus:

Extensive research data and publications on sustainable cauliflower production and not underworking solid manure is to be found when you click here

Also academic articles and technical reports that contain detailed information on the research conducted and findings. Furthermore plans of action for the field trials as described in various technical papers and plans are also downloadable.

Visualisations of the teams efforts during the hackathon:

Click here to download all visualisations

Example case highlighted

Wim de Reus - Sustainable Cauliflower Production

Click to see the whole problem-solution fit

Purpose

Research into the effect of not underworking stringy farmyard manure on cauliflower cultivation in North Holland.

Impact

The multi-year study led to valuable insights into the benefits of this fertilization method for soil health, biodiversity and crop quality. The results suggest that not underworking manure helps improve soil structure, which is essential for plants to absorb water and nutrients.

Societal Value

This research supports the transition to nature-inclusive agricultural practices that are essential for conserving biodiversity, improving food production and minimizing the carbon footprint of agriculture.

Research finding

Soil quality and structure: Non-undercutting of stringy farmyard manure resulted in improved soil structure. This resulted in better water uptake and root growth, reducing the cauliflower's dependence on surface water and increasing drought resistance.

Biodiversity restoration: The approach promoted an increase in soil biodiversity, including beneficial microorganisms and worms. This richer soil life stimulated natural soil fertility and plant health.

Crop quality and nutritional value: Analyses showed that cauliflowers grown with non-submerged manure contained higher concentrations of vitamin C, indicating improved nutritional values.

Environmental impact: The method contributed to reduced leaching of nutrients to water sources, improving water quality.