Agriculture and society

More than half of the people worldwide live in cities and in the Netherlands this figure is more than 70%. Due to rapid urbanisation, the relationship between the inhabitants of cities and their surrounding areas has changed dramatically. We work on this within three areas: Multifunctional agriculture, Urban agriculture and Functional agriculture.

We work within the areas:

  • Multifunctional agriculture: agriculture in rural areas that focuses on connecting food production with consumers and city dwellers by means of services such as recreation, health care, etc.
  • Urban agriculture: food as an integrated part of a healthy, prosperous and sustainable city and its surrounding areas.
  • Functional biodiversity: nature in and around the city set up for and by its inhabitants with the focus on experience and a healthy living environment.
  • Prospects studies: What are the costs and benefits of new cultivation measures? What are the market opportunities for a new product? How can the government stimulate entrepreneurship? These are the kinds of questions that our experts can answer by conducting prospects studies. Our objective is to identify clear, practical and independent opportunities for new developments and innovations; to determine the feasibility and to provide expert advice on their implementation.
  • Entrepeneur networks: As a farmer, what can you do, or do differently, to continue to future-proof your business? And what can governments and parties in the chain do to encourage entrepreneurs to change? Innovation is a necessity for farmers to ensure the continuity and growth of their businesses. We work according to short, cyclical development processes that involve agriculturalists and horticulturists at every phase of the innovation process: from articulating the question and forming the concept to implementing the idea at the company or bringing it to market. This co-innovation is accomplished with the aid of networks of entrepreneurs and other stakeholders such as suppliers, NGOs and interest groups.
    We have experience guiding groups of entrepreneurs through the innovation process. In addressing substantive challenges, Wageningen Plant Research draws upon its extensive scientific knowledge and on the practical experience and knowledge of stakeholders. Our methods for outlining future prospects also address economic and environmental feasibility. We also assist governments, parties in the market and knowledge organisations with developing and/or evaluating innovation programmes, whether these are based in the Netherlands or further afield for international projects.

Examples of entrepeneur networks:

In the network project 'Grondig Boeren met Maïs' (in Dutch), livestock farmers, employees and advisers collaborate on research into profitable maize cultivation without harmful environmental effects. For this research, special attention is given to proper soil management.

Innovatie Veenkoloni├źn is an innovative programme set up in the peat areas in the north of the Netherlands, involving networks focused on improving the sustainability and yields of starch potatoes, sugar beets and grains.

Previous projects

  • Telen met Toekomst ('Farming with a future') was a project we worked on between 2004 to 2010 with hundreds of agricultural and horticultural producers and stakeholders in groups to apply sustainable crop protection and fertilising in practice.

Related dossiers: