Fifty years ago, WUR students went to Spain for the first time for fieldwork. They were studying the subject Erosion, which was given by Professor (by special appointment) Roel van Duin and his colleague Klaas Voetberg. Students are still going to Spain to study erosion; this has become part of the Master’s programme in International land and water management. Leo Eppink and Jan de Graaff, both former supervisors of the erosion studies, have written a book about this: Een eeuw Wageningen University - Een halve eeuw Erosiestudies in Spanje (‘A century of Wageningen University – Half a Century of Erosion Studies in Spain’).
Between 1969 and 1990, 250 students participated in these projects. Most of the theses and annual reports written by the students are kept in the university’s Central Library, this thanks to Eppink’s efforts. “When I retired in 2000 I transferred a cabinet full of student reports to the archive,” he said. “I had never thought that I’d be the first to use them. Those sources supplied the names of almost all of the participants. Sixty participants responded by sending stories, anecdotes, photos and other documents.”
Voetberg and Van Duin
The subject of erosion took shape when Klaas Voetberg joined Van Duin’s group in 1968. Voetberg had travelled around the Mediterranean Sea to study erosion prevention activities in the various countries. This led to a series of lectures when he was studying for his kandidaats and multidisciplinary fieldwork in Spain during his engineering studies.
From 1972 to 1991 this fieldwork was done by the departments of Land Development, Road and Water Engineering, Soil Science and Forestry. Sometimes other departments also provided support. These Erosion Studies Projects took place successively in Armenteros, Hornos, Santa Cruz, Munébrega and Ejea, Campotéjar and Conca de Tremp.
Starting in 1990 the programmes of studies were so restructured that students could no longer work for a number of months on erosion research in Spain. It was decided to begin a multidisciplinary practical course in southern Spain; first for students of Soil Science, Agronomy and Erosion, who were soon followed by students from Irrigation, Geo-information and Nature Conservation.
After the next major educational innovations in 2000, the groups Agronomy, Geo-information and Nature Conservation left the practical course. Irrigation and Water Management and Erosion and Soil and Water Conservation, which together established the programme of International Land and Water Management in 2002, continued their participation. In 2009, the fieldwork was transferred to Albaida in the province of Valencia, where the course is still running.
The book by Eppink and De Graaff mentions the names of the 350 students who worked on the Erosion part of the practical course. Up to now a total of about 1400 students have gone to this course in Spain.
Eppink en De Graaf wrote Een eeuw Wageningen University - Een halve eeuw Erosiestudies in Spanje in the light of the hundredth anniversary of WUR this year. The hardcopy book is shown at the World Wide Wageningen alumni day on 23rd June.