Launch meeting for Natura 2000 fieldlab in Westelijke Veenweiden




Action has begun on Proeftuin Veenweiden Natura 2000, a fieldlab programme aimed at curtailing the emission of ammonia in the province's western peatland area. Dairy farmers, researchers and consultants are working together on measures to cut ammonia levels and at the same time improve water quality and reduce soil subsidence.

The Veenweiden (Peatlands) is an area of farmland that is distinctive for its long narrow arable plots, soil subsidence, complex logistics and situation in the Randstad industrial agglomeration. Like other businesses in the region, dairy farmers are impelled to anticipate prospective developments. One such issue is the excessive levels of nitrogen in the area, for which responsibility is shared by seaport industry, airports, businesses and farmers. Proeftuin Veenweiden was set up to develop and test reduction measures in partnership with ambitious and motivated dairy farmers. Smart measures to cut ammonia emissions would boost farming incomes and result in better recycling of farming waste.

Future

Farming is an important sector of the economy. But to secure its future survival it is highly important to take sustainability and its social support base into account. Lowering nitrogen emissions is vital for biodiversity, particularly in Natura 2000 areas. Peatland areas and farming are responsible for a large share of nitrogen emissions. For that reason we need innovation.

Farming policy in Zuid-Holland Province gives priority to system innovation: seeking new management models. The outcome of the fieldlab project is therefore key to finding answers to the question: can we develop a form of agriculture that produces less ammonia and nitrogen?

Ten dairy farmers and their advisors launched the search for effective measures on 30 June 2016. Others in the area will be invited to join them in the months ahead. The ultimate aim of the fieldlab project is to have 100 dairy farmers participating.

The fieldlab is a joint initiative of farming and horticulture organisation LTO Noord and peatland innovation centre VIC Zegveld. The organisations cooperating in its implementation are LTO Noord, Wageningen University & Research, VIC Zegveld, consultants PPP-Agro Advies and the Louis Bolk Institute.