Large research project on species-rich meadows in the Netherlands

October 4, 2019

A team of researchers of Wageningen Research is going to develop a typology of species-rich grasslands in the Dutch "Green Heart". The researchers want to gain insight into the yield, feed value and biodiversity of the grasslands, and see how this is connected to operational management, milk production, composition of the milk and possible business models.

The research project, called ‘Species-rich grassland, the green motor’ can be the base of a new, sustainable way of farming in the Green Heart. This is part of the Green Circle Cheese and Soil Subsidence. In this project De Graafstroom, the cooperation of dairy farmers DeltaMilk, the Province of South-Holland, Rabobank, Water Board Rivierenland and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) are collaborating in search of sustainable perspectives for dairy farming in the Green Heart.

Species-rich meadows and biodiversity

Raymond Noordermeer from De Graafstroom: “The project assists us during our active search of opportunities for livestock farmers and the region to undertake healthy ecological and economical improvements. We have already some locations where we test for example level-controlled submerged drains. We are eager to look into the way this will coincide with species-rich grasslands and biodiversity, like meadow birds.”

Judith Westerink, who has coordinated the proposal together with Conny Bufe (both from Wageningen Research), explains how this research project will connect knowledge on ecology, plant growing, cattle farming and economy, while being in close contact with work in practice. “Because of issues like biodiversity, climate change and soil subsidence, there is an urgent need for knowledge on species-rich grasslands. The team is eager to collaborate and we envisage also a great opportunity to connect with European research at large”.

Flying start

The research project receives funding via the Knowledge Basis Programme Nature-Inclusive Transitions to the amount of € 850.000,-  made possible by the Dutch Ministry of LNV. “This project is about research in the front line of nature-inclusive agriculture,” Lawrence Jones-Walters, programme director within WUR, says. “I am very enthusiastic about the contents of the project, its relevance and the potential it has for future policy development and also about the commitment of important stakeholders from the agrarian sector. I am looking forward to seeing the first results and outcome of the project”. This specific Knowledge Basis Programme aspires to show options and to offer guidelines for biodiversity restoration in cities, landscapes and marine environments.