The report aims at characterizing Dutch agriculture and farming practices. The first part consists of analysis of yield trends and input data for arable farming in the Netherlands and particularly in Flevoland. The focus of the research was on arable farming with 5 main crops (consumption and seed potatoes, sugar beet, winter and summer wheat). The purpose is to analyse trends in yield, fertilization and crop protection management during the last fifteen years. Two different data sources have been consulted: CBS database and KWIN books. The results showed that yields tended to increase or remain high and stable for each crop; application of fertilizers was optimized; and the active ingredients of crop protection products have become less toxic during the last fifteen years, and fewer in terms of varieties and quantities applied. Flevoland appeared to be one of the most productive provinces of the Netherlands. All the results were analyzed within the environmental, economic and social contexts. Soil characteristics, work organization and policy changes were taken into account Another conclusion of this part of the research states that farming management in the Netherlands and in Flevoland is getting more environmentally friendly in the course of time.
The second part of the report presents results of the experiments which investigated several alternative farming practices in terms of their impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Three trials have been done. The first one investigated the effect of removal of sugar beet leaves after harvest of the beets. The second one tested whether green manure crops release more or less greenhouse gases than grassland or gain maize, selected as reference in this study. The third one studied the impact of two new types of slurry on greenhouse gases emissions compared with common pig slurry. The measurements were carried out on the experimental farm Vredepeel in the South East of The Netherlands. During the experiments gaseous emissions were measured in autumn 2008 and spring 2009 on six different dates. At the end, emissions were converted from ppm (parts per million) to kg/ha/day in order to make the values comparable with farming doses. The main results of the study were as follows: residues of sugar beet leaf increase carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere compared to emissions without leaf cover on the soil. In the same way, most of green manure crops emit more carbon dioxide than grassland or grain maize, selected as reference. Second year grass clover and alfalfa crops emit more carbon dioxide than the references. On the contrary, 1st year grass clover and alfalfa crops emit less CO2 than the references. The different types of manure did not result in different greenhouse gas emissions.
The main findings of the report will be further elaborated in several research projects at Plant Production Systems group and PPO in Lelystad.