Report Synopsis

Revenue models within the peat pasture areas of The Netherlands

Rick de Vor

My Nuffield experience began in the fall of 2017. I received my Nuffield Scholarship in November 2017 for my research on the Peat meadow problems in the West part of the Netherlands (The Green Heart). My research question was: Is it possible to maintain a good revenue model for the agricultural sector within the peat pasture areas of the Netherlands? Also, how to stop the decline of the peat soil, and thereby reduce CO2 emissions?

On one of my visits to the Northern Island of New Zealand, I noticed that the decline of the peat areas where not perceived as a problem. For example, last year there was a big flood which effected three farms and killed almost 1200 cows. This flood was mainly caused by the decline of the peat soil. At this moment the government does not want to take action because they do not see decline of peat soil as a structural problem. Also in Indonesia, in which its capital city Jakarta (more than 17 million inhabitants) sinks up to 20 centimetres a year, the solution they come up with is moving the capital and the government to another part of Indonesia. It is too expensive and too risky to invest in Jakarta to be a secure capital city for the government. In North Carolina (USA) the peat land has fallen to such an extent, the government advises farmers to relocate. They regard these areas as not safe when water levels keep rising.

These are three examples in which landowners, government and other stakeholders do not take proper action against the declining of the (peat) soil. Fortunately there are also examples of farmers, professors, researchers and other organisations which have ideas and solutions to manage the problems of the peat areas. For example, in Australia I have spoken to a cattle farmer who showed me two interesting things on his farm. First of all, he leads the water that comes from the mountains into a system. He uses this system to reduce the speed of the water which flows over his land. As a result the sediments remain on his farm land; another consequence is less flushing in the Great Barrier Reef. Second, He grows Brachiaria grasses; one of the qualities of this type of grass is that it grows easily on wetlands and it also gives good yields.

After my travels I have been able to acquire some good ideas to research further on this subject in the Netherlands.

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