How the Netherlands feeds the world

NickOttensNickOttens Community ManagerBarcelona, SpainPosts: 878 admin
edited February 2019 in The Future of Food
Always happy to promote my home country :smile:

There's a great story in National Geographic about farming innovations in the Netherlands.

Almost two decades ago, the Dutch made a national commitment to sustainable agriculture under the rallying cry “Twice as much food using half as many resources.” Since 2000, [...] farmers have reduced dependence on water for key crops by as much as 90 percent. They’ve almost completely eliminated the use of chemical pesticides on plants in greenhouses, and since 2009 Dutch poultry and livestock producers have cut their use of antibiotics by as much as 60 percent.

The secret is basically greenhouses.


  • timsilmantimsilman Los Angeles, CAPosts: 58 XPRIZE
    fascinating. a lot to unpack here @NickOttens. great that a lot of the work of WUR and others in NL is geared towards disseminating knowledge and co-creating with those in developing countries. one question i had was what are the unintended consequences on the Netherlands for having so much land covered by greenhouses and high efficiency farming equipment? wasn't mentioned in the piece but one might expect there to be some effects.
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Barcelona, SpainPosts: 878 admin
    One, I suppose, is that parts of the country are lit up at night, what you might call light pollution. But there's not much public debate around that, as far as I know.

    There is constant debate about how much land agriculture, and greenhouses in particular, should be allowed to take up. The biggest concentration of greenhouses in the country is smack in the middle of the country's four major cities, which is also an area with a lot of recreational land, lakes, small towns, etc. (called the "Green Heart").

    So that's a familiar, and perennial debate, between economic interests on the one hand and environmentalists and preservationists on the other.
  • timsilmantimsilman Los Angeles, CAPosts: 58 XPRIZE
    @NickOttens interesting, yes as you note not something exclusive to the Netherlands in terms of economic interests vs. environmentalists/preservationists. but certainly a different flavor (as an outside observer) than the tenor of that debate here in the US, given the wide adoption of sustainable/regenerative agricultural practices in the Netherlands. to me, the interests in the US seem more diametrically opposed.
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Barcelona, SpainPosts: 878 admin
    There is altogether more of a consensus culture in Dutch politics. I think American politics, and British politics too, are more confrontational.
  • timsilmantimsilman Los Angeles, CAPosts: 58 XPRIZE
    @NickOttens yes the "winner take all" mentality seems to permeate and infect a lot of the discourse, particularly around these types of issues.
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