A Regenerative Agricultural System at Scale: an Outline of Required Outcomes for the Netherlands

Groot Koerkamp, P.W.G.; Schouten, W.J.; Schreefel, L.; Wojtynia, Niko; Beldman, A.C.G.; Boer, I.J.M. de; Boer, Marjolein de; Bos, A.P.; Derks, M.; Dijk, Jerry van; Grin, John; Heideveld, Antoine; Hekkert, Marko; Korthals, G.W.; Lesschen, J.P.; Schrijver, A.; Rossing, W.A.H.; Schulte, R.P.O.; Smit, A.B.; Zanten, H.H.E. van


Regenerative agriculture is considered a more sustainable alternative to current farming practices, but it is not yet
well defined. Building on scientific literature we have defined regenerative agriculture as ‘an approach to farming that
uses soil conservation as the entry point to regenerate and contribute to multiple provisioning, regulating and supporting
ecosystem services, with the aspiration that this will enhance not only the environmental, but also the social and
economic dimensions of sustainable food production’. In addition to this definition at farm level we propose the
following vision for a regenerative agricultural system at landscape or higher system levels: A regenerative agricultural
system enables production of food and biomass and enables ecosystems to maintain a healthy state and evolve, while
contributing to biological diversity, integrity of the biosphere, human and farm animal well-being and economic
prosperity of society. Based on this long-term vision we have defined a comprehensive outline of a regenerative
agricultural system that includes, and takes into account, all ecosystem services, soil functions and planetary
boundaries. This outline covers fourteen topics and describes the ‘outcomes’ that are needed to meet the objectives of a
regenerative agricultural system, without being prescriptive on ‘how’ these outcomes should be achieved. Therefore, we
use the term ‘required outcomes’ which precisely and quantitatively describe the target performance of the regenerative
agricultural system. These ‘required outcomes’ are related to the inputs and use of resources, the output (i.e. food,
biomass) and losses/emissions, and the preferred state of soils, water bodies, animals, biodiversity and society. The
outcomes encompass environmental, social, and economic aspects, and are defined at five different system levels: 1)
field (above and below ground), 2) farm, 3) local landscape (including air and water bodies), 4) the Netherlands and 5)
international. All required outcomes are based on and supported by scientific literature