The University of Groningen (UG) and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) have decided to work together more closely in the area of nature-inclusive and circular agriculture, and the rural development associated with this, in the Northern Netherlands. To this end, UG President Jouke de Vries and WUR Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol signed a declaration of intent on Wednesday 17 July 2019.
Dutch agriculture is in a period of transition. This has been stimulated by the Delta Plan for Biodiversity Recovery and the vision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Landbouw, natuur en voedsel: waardevol en verbonden (‘Agriculture, nature and food: valuable and connected’), but also by developments such as the Dutch Climate Agreement. The Northern Netherlands has been identified as a region that contains inspirational testing grounds, which could give form and content to the agricultural transition, by putting new and existing knowledge into practice.
In April 2019, a Kwaliteitsbeeld 2030 (‘Quality image’ 2030) for nature-inclusive and circular agriculture was drafted into the Agro Agenda Noord-Nederland (Agricultural Agenda of the Northern Netherlands), to which the UG and WUR are also affiliated. In order to fulfil these ambitions, a number of programmes have been and are being established, such as the Uitvoeringsplan Kringlooplandbouw (implementation plan for circular agriculture) and Regio Deal Natuurinclusieve landbouw (regional agreement for nature-inclusive agriculture) in the Northern Netherlands, as well as various pilot programmes conducted by the EU Common Agricultural Policy, the Staatsbosbeheer (Dutch government organization for the management of forestry and nature reserves), the Delta Plan for Biodiversity Recovery and the Vitaal Platteland programme for the protection of rural areas in the Netherlands. Each of these programmes relates to a knowledge agenda focused on innovation and learning by doing. For this reason, the UG and WUR are challenged to bring the complementary knowledge of their research institutes together and to involve other knowledge institutions as well.
Jouke de Vries: “We are happy to take on this sustainability research challenge together with Wageningen University & Research. The goal is to create an overarching knowledge and innovation plan for the agricultural programmes here in the North, but also for those further afield. To develop this plan, we are organizing a joint working conference in Leeuwarden this autumn for UG and WUR researchers, as well as external partners of course.”
According to Arthur Mol, Rector Magnificus of the WUR, the collaborative project builds on over 30 initiatives that the WUR has already begun in the Northern Netherlands in the area of nature-inclusive agriculture, as well as on its Dairy Campus project, Valthermond test location and Wetsus research institute. “Further collaboration with the UG will strengthen and deepen this research.”
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