News - April 30, 2020

Applied research on climate-proof arable farming

Albert Sikkema

Dutch arable farmers are having to cope with droughts and flooding more and more often. So the Plants Sciences Group is going to work with the sector to research what it would take to make arable farming climate-proof.

The project ‘Climate Adaptation Open Cultivation’ aims to reduce arable harvest losses caused by extreme weather conditions. Over the next four years, the researchers will study issues around soil quality, cultivation measures, how to address soil compaction, and how to create smarter, better irrigation.

Together with the Northern Foundation for Arable Farming Trial Operations (SNPA), WUR is going to document the availability of water during the potato growing season. The project is also going to evaluate several different crops on different soils in various regions of the Netherlands using a stress test. This test was developed as part of a previous WUR project. The researchers will then study which adaptation measures the arable farmers could adopt. One of the things they will look at is soil quality. The researchers plan to conduct tests with green fertilizers and drill holes in the soil to make it retain more water.

The project will be working with arable farmers in the north of the Netherlands who have already adopted climate adaptation measures. Moisture will be measured in these farmers’ fields, and in those of a control group of farmers and fields without climate measures. The researchers will look at which measures to reduce soil compaction leave soils less dry.