Transition to circular agriculture is a joint process
During the Mansholt Lecture on 19 September, Wageningen University & Research will outline how the transition to circular agriculture offers a new perspective for the agricultural Netherlands – from a scientific point of view and in a European perspective. However, what is your opinion?
We explain our concept of circularity in agricultural production in this long read. We do not wish to return to the times of Sicco Mansholt, who fifty years ago succeeded in radically modernising the European agricultural sector, which at the time was confronted with high disease pressure, insufficient fertiliser supplies and continual risks of crop failure. What we do envisage is a transition to a circularity in agricultural production that achieves high yields while making economic use of raw materials and energy and minimising the impact on nature, environment and climate. The need for sustainable, affordable, healthy and safe food for the future does not only play a role in the Netherlands, but throughout Europe and worldwide.
Vision on agriculture
On 8 September, Carola Schouten, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, presented her ‘Landbouw, natuur en voedsel: waardevol en verbonden (in Dutch)’ (Agriculture, nature and food: valuable and interrelated) vision on agriculture that pivots on circularity in agricultural production. She is of the opinion that today’s agricultural production, based on reducing costs and increasing yields, has become untenable. Schouten writes that ‘We can only safeguard our future food supplies when we make the transition to circularity in agricultural production. We simply have to avoid depleting the soil, water and raw materials, and we simply have to prevent increases in climate temperatures to unacceptable levels. Circularity in agricultural production is the unavoidable and all-embracing answer to this problem. We have already acquired experience with this transition, a transition which is also supported by society. I wish to build on this basis.’
Broadly supported transition
However, a transition of this nature can succeed only with broad support. Circularity in agricultural production requires a joint search by farmers, involved citizens, companies and researchers for an optimum combination of ecological principles and modern technology, with new partnerships, new earning models, and new social services. Each farm, holding and company will ultimately select its partners and methods. It is not a blueprint. Heterogeneity is required.
What is your opinion of circularity in agricultural production? What do you perceive as important issues? What do you see as major opportunities? What are important preconditions?