A circular food system: putting flesh on the bones

Circular agriculture was a rather new concept, introduced in 2018 by Imke de Boer and Martin van Ittersum and based on four principles. The Dutch Minister for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), Carola Schouten has embraced circular agriculture as a concept that should be further developed and promoted.

Circular agriculture became one of the core themes of Wageningen University & Research (Knowledge Base program 34 Circular and Climate Neutral and our investment theme Connected Circularity) for research.

Team C

In addition to direct participation in (knowledge base) research, an agile team on circularity (TEAM C) was set up within the Animal Sciences Group (ASG) more than a year ago (June 2019). Ten enthusiasts from four WR institutes, the Animal Production Systems chair group and LNV were commissioned to work together on the transition to a circular food system.

TEAM C was brought together by Martin Scholten (former ASG director) and inspired by professor Imke de Boer, one of the founders of the circular agriculture philosophy within WUR. The agile TEAM, was perhaps best described as: learning by inspiring each other, working on where knowledge and practice meet and through an exciting mix of different backgrounds and cultures looking to gain new insights.

That team was instructed to think within the framework of circular agriculture:

Team Circularity
  1. New groundbreaking ideas regarding resource security (circularity)
  2. New connections to test concepts in breakthroughs (Finding Answers Together)
  3. A translation to education (from curricular to professional)
  4. New proposals for research (from fundamental to practical)

The results

The results of one year of TEAM C were summarized on the basis of six themes: (1) knowledge exchange, (2) food safety, (3) the role of water in a circular food system, (4) circularity in the chain, (5) land and sea connected in the food system and (6) circularity in the regions.

TEAM C’s year to work together ended in august 2020, however their multidisciplinary way of working is continuing within WUR in new project initiatives and ideas.