Europe’s most innovative grassland farmers are set to receive international awards for their innovation and commitment to excellence in grassland. This initiative is part of the three year Inno4Grass Thematic Network project, a €2 million project funded by Horizon 2020. The farmers receiving awards represent eight member states in Europe and are all excelling in grassland and grassland management despite differences in climate, systems and soil types. Each member state has recognised a farmer excelling in grassland through different competitions which took place in the member states.
The eight countries being celebrated at the Inno4Grass award ceremony are Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden, in which grasslands have a considerable share in the agricultural area and where production of dairy, beef and sheep from grassland is of major economic importance.
The award ceremony is set to take place in Germany from 11th to 12th June 2019. Participants will visit local farms near Oldenburg, Northern Germany to discuss grassland management with different grazing and conservation techniques on the 11th June and will then travel to Hannover for a Grassland Conference and the official award ceremony the following day. The German Ministry for Agriculture is supporting this event.
Best Dutch grassland farmers
In the Netherlands, Hielke and Hanny de Rooij from Wadenoijen were voted "Best grassland farmer of the Netherlands 2018". According to Agnes van den Pol, the Dutch project leader of Inno4Grass, it is because despite a small house plot they still get a lot of fresh grass and lots of protein from their own land in the cows. Or as Hielke and Hanny de Rooij themselves say: "Grass is simply a fantastic product. It is still considered too much bulk."
Project coordinator Arno Krause remarked “I’m looking forward to presenting innovative grassland farmers around Europe with awards for their fantastic achievements in grassland. We call these farmers ‘lighthouse farmers’, they are shining lights in their countries, providing other farmers with guidance, ideas and knowledge in grassland, so it is important that we recognise their contribution to society in the award ceremony. This is one of the major achievements of the Inno4Grass project”.
The Inno4Grass programme strives to bridge the gap between practice and science communities to ensure the implementation of innovative systems on productive grasslands. The long term goal of the project is to increase profitability of European grassland farms and to preserve environmental values across Europe.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.