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In the past centuries our cultural landscapes have been created by farmers. The landscapes are highly valued but are also under pressure, for example due to the intensification of agriculture. The farmers feel that they are doing their best to comply with the ever-changing regulations, but at the same time experience that they receive little appreciation. It is time for a change of course. The Board of Government Advisors took initiative for three pilot projects for landscape-inclusive agriculture in three different areas. NOHNIK, in collaboration with the Louis Bolk Institute and the Centre of Landscape Studies of the University of Groningen, worked on the pilot in the region of Salland, with the input of farmers and stakeholders from the area. This perspective focuses on the long term of 2050 and also a practical intermediate step developed with farmers for 2030.

Salland has a great diversity in the landscape and is also a strong agricultural region. The challenges in the area are diverse. The current system of food production is focussed on efficiency, resulting in small margins and progressive upscaling. At the same time a wide range of social challenges, including the human impact on the nitrogen cycle, a decline in biodiversity, climate adaptation and water challenges such as drought. A price that is more fair for the farmer and a good future perspective is therefore a major challenge and assignment. Just like closing cycles and maintaining and strengthening the landscape diversity and vitality of the area.

Perspective landscape-inclusive agriculture in 2050
Based on these challenges, a perspective for landscape-inclusive agriculture in 2050 has been developed, based on a number of assumptions such as; higher land prices, a more sustainable diet for the consumer and a reduction in the use of fertilizers and chemicals. In 2050, the landscape of Salland will be more dynamic, varied and resilient due to a renewed connection between landscape and land-use. Arable farming, extensive dairy farms and farmer-citizen businesses can be found on the fertile clay ridges near the river. Meat, fruit and dairy are produced in a varied small-scale landscape in combination with crop cultivation, agroforestry and livestock farming. On the characteristic higher cultivated fields of Salland, large-scale arable farming is taking place, mainly focussed on human nutrition (e.g. grains and potatoes). These higher elevated places in the landscape are recognizable by a heavily planted edge. At the city and village edges, green-blue structures are strongly interwoven through the urban and rural areas. Attractive hybrid areas have emerged here where small-scale farmer-citizen farms collectively grow food, keep livestock and maintain the landscape. 

On the more open plains and areas with mixed soils, farming is mainly relatively large-scale. Here large dairy farms combine grazing on herb-rich plots with agroforestry (combination of fruit and nut trees with grazing). This creates a more varied and simultaneously an attractive area. In 2050 the Salland water courses and seepage zones have started to play an essential role in a self-sufficient water system for the region. Water is retained in agricultural-inclusive nature zones where extensive grazing for the production of milk and meat is being combined with the cultivation of bio-based building materials on a small scale in waterlogged wooded terrains.

In this landscape of 2050, a strong distinction has been made between plots that are used to provide ecosystem services and on the other hand plots that are production-oriented. Integrating agroforestry as a cultivation system contributes to making agriculture more sustainable and creates new revenue models. Within the landscape of Salland in 2050, various possible business models have been developed that largely close their complete cycle within the region itself. In this the landscape, income, land use, relationship between the farmer and the environment and the degree of intensity are elaborated. Based on themes of a ‘landscape-inclusive agriculture’ ruler (e.g. financial, welfare, biodiversity, etc.) targets have been set for 2050 against to which the business models have been tested.

Intermediate step 2030
The perspective for the landscape-inclusive agriculture in 2050 sketches a perspective of what the agriculture in Salland could look like in 2050. In order to implement this, major system changes are needed. That does not happen overnight and will require an intermediate step of 2030. Think of possibilities to significantly reduce the use of fertilizer nitrogen and pesticides, targets for CO2-reduction in the agricultural sector (-11,1%), or the targeted applying of measurements to improve the soil quality. In addition, the 90% of the closing of cycles within 200 km is in sight, because fodder is bought closer and the measures to increase efficiency at both crop and animal level are being applied. In order to achieve the previous goals, good preconditions must be created for farmers by both the government and the society. The most important are fair remuneration for the supplied product and services, access to land, stimulating and coherent policy, and more entrepreneurial freedom. These conditions and steps have been further elaborated in a transition plan to 2030 and 2050.

The entire report, including the area analysis, landscape history analysis, perspective 2050, intermediate step 2030, and the transition plan can be downloaded from the website of the Board of Government Advisors (Dutch only).

Year: 2019-2020
Type: research by design, landscape
Client: Board of Government Advisors
Size: ca. 425 km2
Status: finished, published (Dutch only)
In collaboration with: Louis Bolk Institute, Centre of Landscape Studies of the University of Groningen