Supporting sustainable farming through innovative soil assessments


Marthijn Sonneveld (Soil Geography and Landscape Wageningen UR)
Egbert Lantinga (FSE Wageningen UR)


Most land evaluation procedures have been developed for regional scale (Sonneveld et al., 2010) and consistent procedures at farm scale have received less attention. Yet, the farm scale is becoming increasingly relevant because of societal demands for sustainable food production. Within current policies there is a trend to pay farmers according to their actual environmental performance, rather than controlling them through fixed regulations.
In Dutch dairy farming, nutrient cycle approaches (such as the KringloopKompas) are being used more and more by large companies such as CONO cheesemakers and Friesland-Campina to describe the sustainability of their farm producers. However, the current procedure for soil quality assessment is in need for updating and standardization.
In this project, the aim is to develop a land evaluation procedure at farm level which can be used in future legislation to assess the actual soil quality at farm level. You will work in two regions, North Holland and the Gelderse Vallei, and in both regions with 2x5 farmers (total of 20 farms). In each region, 5 farmers follow a specific ‘sustainable soil management’path and 5 farmers (to be selected) are conventional farmers.

The MSc work consists of designing a sampling scheme, field work (FAO Visual Soil Assessment and WIB-C procedures) in combination with interviews and standard laboratory analyses. The output will be given in Score-sheets, statistical evaluations and maps at farm scale.