Globtec Group

New tech boosts Dutch drive for sustainable farming

New tech boosts Dutch drive for sustainable farming

I’m at the Wageningen University’s Farm of the Future, where I had been expecting to see robots and perhaps, drones flying overhead.

But on a bright blue day project manager Wijnand Sukkel stands in the expansive fields across from the university building with bare trees and of course, windmills in the background, and points at the strips of crops in the fields.

He says usually in the Netherlands these would just be filled by a monocrop such as maize or wheat.

Here in Lelystad, however, they’re experimenting with different agricultural methods including crop diversity, with eight different crops sown here at any one time including wheat, onions, potatoes, and broad beans.

“We know that crop diversity works,” says Mr Sukkel, who adds that they also use cover crops to help improve the soil and biodiversity. “It’s a more efficient use of water, it has lower risk of pest disease, it has a higher biodiversity, it’s better for the soil, and it gives higher yields.”

The world population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion people in 2050, according to the UN. Mr Sukkel and his colleagues are developing sustainable farming systems to ensure there’s enough food for a growing global population, while also working to reduce carbon emissions.

The university started Farm of the Future four years ago after seeing biodiversity decline due to climate change. “We wondered if it was possible to design a high food production farm system with zero fossil fuel energy use, with no damage from pesticides and [that] was resilient to heavy rainfall or very long dry periods.”



Avatar photo