Circular agriculture and spatial quality

Translating Connected Circularity concepts in Dutch agriculture, such as closing nitrogen and phosphate circles, embedding renewable energy infrastructure, and room for water retention in landscapes will have a strong impact on the appearance and functioning of future landscapes. Fierce public discussions about spatial quality of interventions such as solar fields and wind turbines in landscapes clearly illustrate the importance people attach to the spatial quality of the rural landscape. In many cases these discussions about the heretofore ill-defined concept spatial quality lead to a deadlock situation that hampers implementation of such urgently needed sustainable energy systems. Has spatial quality been used as a placeholder for other reasons, such as a reluctance to accept change? Is it a term for ugliness? What does it really mean?

The impact of implementing of circularity in the agricultural landscape will be even greater than implementing renewable energy interventions only as it will involve other large scale infrastructures, e.g. modern stables, fermentation plants, water retention and will involve cultivation of different types of crops. To prevent deadlocks in the implementation of such circular agricultural systems we need to acquire a better understanding of what spatial quality is and to assess spatial consequences of connected circularity scenarios in agricultural landscapes, preferably before they go into the stage of public discussions. Therefore, this project aims at generating a clearly defined and easily applicable set of criteria that helps to describe spatial quality. Such a definition of spatial quality is novel in the context of the new connected circularity landscapes of the Netherlands, but is urgently needed. Our project team has the expertise to successfully execute this project.