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Improving soil fertility and water quality

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More than 250 dairy farmers in the Dutch province of Gelderland are participating in the project Vruchtbare Kringloop ["The fruits of nutrient cycling"] (2013-2015) to improve nutrient use efficiency and reduce nutrient losses to surface and groundwater. This project is carried out by the Louis Bolk Institute, in collaboration with DLV Plant, Dirksen Management Support, Countus, and Wageningen University and Research Centre. The ultimate objective is to increase sustainable crop production and reduce agricultural risks of climate change (droughts and floods) in the Achterhoek and Liemers, two regions of the province of Gelderland.

From dairy farmers to district water board
This project has been initiated by LTO Noord (farmers' organisation), Waterschap Rijn en IJssel (district water board), ForFarmers Hendrix (livestock feed supplier), Rabobank (agricultural financing) and Vitens (drinking water company). Their aim is to make dairy production more sustainable and future-proof. The project focuses on four themes: farm profitability, environmental quality, water management and soil fertility.

Four subprojects
The project consists of four subprojects. The Louis Bolk Institute is involved in the subproject related to improving soil and groundwater quality. Our researchers will organise interactive meetings with dairy farmers to assess the problems these farmers are having with their soils (October-November 2014). Next, researchers and farmers will discuss and try out measures to improve soil fertility and nutrient use efficiency (starting January 2015). The dairy farmers will make use of the Kringloopwijzer, a simple calculation tool to quantify nutrient cycles at the farm level.

Nominated for the Water Innovation Award
The Vruchtbare Kringloop project was one of the ten projects nominated for the 2014 Water Innovation Award. This award from the Dutch district water boards emphasises the importance of innovation and collaborative partnerships within water projects.