Integrating initiatives on the yield gap of fodder crops

Several initiatives were started to establish and reduce the yield gap of fodder crops (main crops grass and maize), cf. the Cows & Opportunities project Productieslag (Verloop), PPS proposal Ruwvoer en bodem (Sukkel) and PPS project Grasmaïssignalen (Hoving/Kempenaar). The different initiatives are coordinated by different research groups and rely on different data sources, and methods. We propose to integrate new insights to implement them into a farm specific context. This is crucial because reduction of the yield gap is a matter of management and decision making of individual farms. Therefore assessments on growth limiting factors for crops should be farm specific.

There is no platform for interdisciplinary (re)thinking and sharing of insights and progress of individual projects on these issues. We propose to form this platform, in principle on a timely basis. It should be stressed that actions are additional to the activities of the separate PPS projects.   

We propose to interlink several initiatives and research groups, to review, describe and frame methods applied in the different initiatives and to evaluate insights on a regular basis in expert groups existing of researchers and practical experts such as farm advisors.

The focus in on grass and maize production in the Netherlands. The work should lay a firm scientific basis on a farm recommendation tool of which a concept is currently developed in Cows and Opportunities. The tool should be applicable on all soil types in the Netherlands.

The interdisciplinary and integrative approach enables to relate the yield gap concept with Biobased economy and nature. We propose to explore effects of reducing the yield gap of fodder crops on the production of low value biomass material that is not included in crop harvest. An inventory is made of positive and negative side effects of efforts on the reduction of the yield gap on Biobased economy. An inventory is made on the potential contribution of techniques that are developed in the field of biobased economy such as refinery of biomass or treatment of manure to reduction of the yield gap. The yield gap may have both positive and negative effects (trade off) on nature development in rural areas. Cross links between these different concepts may give rise to new research questions.