Arable farming is in my heart and soul and I feel closely and personally involved with the challenges the sector encounters, such as sustainable soil management, crop protection and interaction with livestock farmers. If we want to ensure high-quality, productive soils in the future, then it's essential we invest time, money and knowledge now. My role is not only to provide knowledge, but also to encourage and guide the process of collaboratively analysing the problem and developing a collective agenda.
As a researcher, I have a wide range of interests. Since my studies, I have worked on a wide variety of issues affecting arable farmers, such as crop protection, entrepreneurship, regional cooperation, soil quality and the interaction between arable and dairy farming. The dairy sector is seeking greater collaboration and the arable sector is considering how to go about this. Researching how to optimise this collaboration will help this process.
Arable farmers are always the primary focus of research efforts as ultimately, the changes have to be made on their farms. What motivates their choices? When examining this, I want to find out more than just the technological and agronomic side of things: the institutional context and the human factor are equally as important and interesting. I'm convinced that knowledge and research can only find a solution if the professional field is also involved. Knowledge is not a goal in and of itself, it's one of the facets required in order to realise change, and it's inextricably linked with co-innovation and collaboration. I like to talk to people, ask questions and give them food for thought.
To me, Dutch arable farmers are like professional athletes. They produce high-quality products, but to do so they must work incredibly hard within a dynamic environment, constantly facing new challenges stemming from the market, new policy and the changing climate. It gives me great satisfaction to help them meet these challenges through my work at Wageningen Plant Research.