Transition to circular agriculture is a joint process

17 September 2018

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.

Infographic Circular Agrofood System

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?

Read more about circular agriculture

Do you have any questions or comments? Go into conversation below.

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Antoinette Thijssen

Antoinette Thijssen

As communications manager of the Animal Sciences Group at WUR, closely involved in the subject of Circular Agriculture. Co-organizer of the Mansholt Lecture 2018: Circularity in agricultural production.

There are 9 comments.

  1. By: David Dunn · 23-09-2018 at 09:08

    Excellent start on the outline, by just how in practical application could it be complimented?
    I have suggested circular methods should be applied to all industries within the same economic model.
    We have till now used and abused taxation to just provide more of everything without due care to the very sustainability of all ecosystems.
    It is my belief we must involve everyone equally within society in terms of taxation and each citizens responsibility towards the planets wellbeing and sustainability.
    By scrapping all existing taxes and replace with a single Natural Resource Tax applied at source and based on the Eco damage caused by their use and consumption.
    It is only by taxing in a new complely holistic way could we achieve a fast transition in all industries, also resulting in taxes being the fairly redistributed throughout the. Full cycle of manufacture, from cradle to cradle to achieve the circular economy needed.

  2. By: herre bartlema · 26-09-2018 at 12:34

    Dear David, come and hear about the practical application on october 10 in Wageningen at WUR, see
    Neo-Mansholtian agriculture policy under construction.
    Become inspired.
    Herre Bartlema Network Smart Fertilization

  3. By: mario lewis · 26-09-2018 at 17:35

    I am very pleased to learn about your work on circular agriculture. I have a start-up company (5yrs) that specializes in zero-waste agriculture in Trinidad (Caribbean), and I have done research and development projects using bio-technology to convert forestry waste, food waste and industrial waste into, soil amendments, disease suppressors, and animal feed. I also work in collaboration with farmers and communities to develop pilot projects.
    I am very interested in collaborating with your university on circular agriculture.

  4. By: Antoinette Thijssen · 01-10-2018 at 09:52

    Dear mr Lewis,
    To discuss possibilities for collaboration please contact:
    Kind regards,
    Antoinette Thijssen

  5. By: mario lewis · 08-10-2018 at 18:51

    Thanks Ms. Thiessen for your assistance.

  6. Are there indicators for agricultural circularity?

  7. By: Helena · 25-07-2019 at 22:18

    Are there indicators for agricultural circularity?

  8. By: Gert van der Bijl · 22-10-2019 at 10:16

    the link to mansholt lecture 2018 leads to mansholt lecture 2019

    1. By: antoinette thijssen · 06-11-2019 at 20:27

      Thank you, Gert. We will fix this.

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