On Wednesday, University of Groningen president Jouke de Vries and Wageningen University & Research rector Arthus Mol signed a declaration of intent for the academic institutions to collaborate more closely in the field of nature-inclusive, circular agriculture and rural development.
Dutch agriculture is in a period of transition, as evidenced by the Delta Plan for Biodiversity Recovery, the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality’s “Agriculture, nature and food: valuable and connected” plans and the Dutch Climate Agreement. The Northern Netherlands in particular has been identified as a region that could serve as a fruitful testing grounds where new and existing knowledge can be put into practice for the wider agricultural transition.
In April 2019, the Agro Agenda Noord-Nederland (Agricultural Agenda of the Northern Netherlands) included the Quality Perception 2030 for a more nature-inclusive and circular agricultural industry, which both the RUG and WUT have been carrying out research into in recent years.
In order to fulfil these ambitions, a number of programmes are in the works, such as the implementation plan for circular agriculture; the Regional Agreement for Nature-Inclusive Agriculture in the Northern Netherlands; pilot programmes conducted by the EU Common Agricultural Policy; the Dutch Forestry Service; and the Vitaal Platteland programme for protecting rural areas in the Netherlands.
Each of the programmes is connected to a wider knowledge agenda focused on innovation and learning by doing, and to that end, the RUG and WUR will be bringing together the complementary knowledge of their respective research institutes and getting other knowledge institutions involved as well.
In the University of Groningen’s press release about the collaboration, RUG president Jouke de Vries says, “We are happy to take on this sustainability research challenge together with Wageningen University & Research. The goal is to create an overarching knowledge and innovation plan for the agricultural programmes here in the North, but also for those further afield. To develop this plan, we are organizing a joint working conference in Leeuwarden this autumn for UG and WUR researchers, as well as external partners of course.”
According to Arthur Mol, Rector Magnificus of the WUR, the collaborative project builds on over 30 initiatives that the WUR has already begun in the Northern Netherlands in the area of nature-inclusive agriculture, as well as on its Dairy Campus project, Valthermond test location and Wetsus research institute. “Further collaboration with the UG will strengthen and deepen this research.”