Future proof farms in The Netherlands

By Roos de Adelhart Toorop

How to design a ‘future proof’ farm? This was the central question discussed in a workshop for 20 enthusiastic future farmers (and students from the agricultural school). First, a lecture on climate neutral farming was given, since this is considered a prerequisite for a well-designed future farm. After that, participants envisioned dreams and objectives for their future farm.

During the workshop, the brainstorming of ideas about future farms was divided in 3 parts:

  1. What do you envision for your farm in 2050?
  2. Exchange between each other: what makes your envisioned farm ‘future proof’?
  3. What are the leading values for the designing of your future farm?

Diversification was key for most participants: both in species and as sources of income. For example, an arable farmer expressed his intention to shift from mono-culture cereals to strip cropping with bushes and flower strips to ensure biodiversity and shelter for insects. In addition, he would keep sheep for meat as second source of income.

Use of diversity was highlighted as a key to enhance ecosystem services.

Other farmers exchanged ideas on permaculture principles and how to make those principles operational on a bigger scale. Robots were seen as a promising solution to labour constraints. The session closed with a discussion on values: creativity was seen as leading value for a real redesign of agricultural systems.

Scheme of a future dairy farm.


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