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About us Campus Fryslân Research at Campus Fryslân Research departments Centre for Sustainable Agriculture Transition


The centre promotes transdisciplinary, interdisciplinary and basic scientific and applied research to design, implement and perpetuate practical solutions to the challenges faced by farmers and chain parties in the transition to sustainable agriculture.

Research programmes:

Sicco Mansholt Programme

The Sicco Mansholt Transition Programme is the result of the collaboration between the AgroAgenda Noord-Nederland and the University of the North (UvhN). This collaboration between practitioners and Northern knowledge institutions provides the basis for a systemic and multi-year programme through which we increase the share of sustainable agriculture in the Northern Netherlands from 8 to 50 per cent. The programme is directly in line with the new ambitions of the government and the European Union.

Read more about the Sicco Mansholt Programme (in Dutch).


Re-Ge-NL is a project funded by the National Growth Fund (NGF). The NGF is an initiative of the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Climate Change and of Finance. With the NGF, the government is investing 20 billion between 2021 and 2025 in projects that will ensure long-term sustainable economic growth. The NGF invests in projects with the most opportunities for structural and sustainable economic growth in the two areas: Knowledge Development and Research, Development and Innovation.

With the allocated funds, Re-Ge-NL will work with Dutch farmers to develop a future-proof agricultural sector. By focusing on regenerative agricultural practices, combining food production with soil improvement and nature restoration, the project will not only contribute to the conservation of our natural resources, but also provide economic opportunities for farmers across the agri-food complex.

The project will start with a thousand farmers making the transition to regenerative agriculture, with specific focus on five focus areas. The grant will allow these farmers to be supported and provided with the necessary resources and expertise to implement regenerative farming practices. These first steps will serve as a leading example for the entire agricultural sector, both nationally and internationally.

This valuable financial support will enable regenerative agriculture to become the new norm between 2030 and 2040. The Re-Ge-NL project will not only transform the agricultural sector, but also contribute to a more sustainable future for the planet and the communities that depend on it.

The Re-Ge-NL programme proposal was submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. It was developed by Next Food Collective, Wageningen University & Research, Groningen University and Utrecht University in collaboration with 54 partners from across the food system. Farmer cooperatives and networks, chain parties, financial institutions, knowledge & technology providers and education & research institutions will jointly start implementation in 2024.

Read the summary of the programme

More about ReGeNL

The centre offers several research projects to accelerate the sustainable agriculture transition. Below are several ongoing research projects:

Hillie van der Bij
Hillie van der Bij

1. Hillie van der Bij
Title: Future-proof business models for regenerative agriculture in two areas
Supervisor: Prof. Gjalt de Jong

Regenerative agriculture is a way of producing and consuming food that focuses on balancing nature/ecology, health and sustainable business models. Regenerative agriculture offers many solutions to the social and business problems of current conventional agriculture.

The aim of this study is to explore what is needed in an area to arrive at a design of future-proof business models for regenerative agriculture. The starting point are the 14 objectives and criteria that serve as intended outcomes of a regenerative agriculture system. To make this insightful, the choice was made to visualise this for two areas: the Achterhoek and the Noardlike Fryske Wâlden. During the study, the visions of dairy farmers, chain parties and governments about regenerative agriculture are central and opportunities and obstacles for the areas are mapped.

Stefano Bertorini
Stefano Bertorini

2. Stefano Bertorini
Title: Crafting New Regenerative and Distributive Agriculture Business Models. Sustainable Food Production  Beyond the Industrial Agriculture Era
Supervisor:  Prof. Gjalt de Jong
Co-Supervisor: dr. ir. Niels Faber 

Navigating Sustainable Agriculture for Farmers' Prosperity:

Meet Rob, a Dutch farmer navigating the complexities of new climate regulations. Rob's concerns reflect the struggles of many farmers in the Netherlands, caught between the need for environmentally-friendly practices and the economic pressures on their livelihoods.

Industrial Agriculture's Double-Edged Sword:
For decades, industrial agriculture has been successful in meeting global food demand, but its triumphs come with a cost. Deforestation, resource depletion, biodiversity loss, and environmental damage are part of the price paid for abundant and affordable food.

The Clash Between Profit and Real Sustainability:
Now, the challenge lies in finding a balance between profit and sustainability. Sustainable agricultural practices like agroecology and regenerative farming offer solutions, but obstacles like profit maximisation practices in the supply chain between farmer and final consumer and resistance from the existing system hinder their widespread adoption.

Mastering the Art of Reframing Agriculture:
This research embarks on understanding how we can reshape the agricultural landscape through the concept of Regenerative and Distributive Agriculture Business (RADA). RADA combines sustainable farming practices, innovative business models, and dynamic interactions with institutions to pave the way for a more sustainable and profitable future.

Unveiling the RADA Framework:
Project 1 lays the theoretical groundwork for RADA, explaining how business model design, deep business innovation, and recognition of institutions are interconnected and function within the current agricultural regime. Positioned within the Multi-Level Perspective, RADA emerges as a transformative participant in the socio-technical transitions of agriculture.

Empirical Insights into Sustainable Transitions:
The subsequent empirical projects delve deeper into RADA's components:
Project 2 explores obstacles faced by regenerative farmers in transitioning from industrial to sustainable models.
Project 3 investigates how institutions shape Regenerative and Distributive Agriculture Business Models in the North of the Netherlands.
Project 4 applies transformative ideas from the DEAL guide in redesigning businesses through Doughnut Economics Core workshops.

Empowering Farmers, Transforming Agriculture:
This research aims to empower farmers, policymakers, and businesses with practical insights to navigate the shift towards sustainable agriculture. By understanding the challenges and potentials of RADA, we aspire to contribute to a future where farmers like Rob thrive, striking the delicate balance between prosperity and environmental stewardship.

Rimvyde Muzikeviciute-Oud
Rimvyde Muzikeviciute-Oud

3. Rimvyde Muzikeviciute-Oud
Title: The Arts as a Catalyst in Shaping Local Sustainable Food Cultures
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Gjalt de Jong & Dr. Marline Lisette Wilders

In my research the essence of sustainability is not about emphasising the quantifiable impact in the sense of parts per million and hectares; it is about a positive outlook that highlights the agency in imaginative and sensory dimensions of our world and food related practices we engage in daily.

The study is a multidisciplinary research project that merges scientific and artistic elements to explore the discourse of sustainability, local food practices and landscape. The research aims for an international multiple case-study design that unfolds through arts-based interventions in three different countries (Italy, The Netherlands and Switzerland) and their corresponding regions. Artistic and cultural practices are considered to be intrinsic parts of a local food culture and agricultural context. Therefore, the aim of the study is to examine this dynamic relationship as well as to investigate if and how artistic sensory experiences can facilitate the transition towards more sustainable local food practices. The overall research question of my PhD project is how place specific art-based interventions can help to foster the establishment of local sustainable food practices and cultures. The data collection processes rely on different qualitative methodologies including the arts-based methods with the element of soil as a common denominator. These methods allow for a multisensory engagement in a landscape to allow for an embodied exploration of a local environment including its biodiversity.

Last modified:11 June 2024 12.28 p.m.
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