Organic agriculture with vegetable and arable crops on sandy soils [Netherlands]

biologische landbouw met groente en akkerbouw gewassen op zandgronden

technologies_2978 - Netherlands

Completeness: 84%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Interactive Soil Quality assessment in Europe and China for Agricultural productivity and Environmental Resilience (EU-iSQAPER)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek, Wageningen University & Research Centre (DLO) - Netherlands

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Certified Organic Agriculture (EU standards) with a combination of arable and vegetable crops on sandy soils in the Netherlands

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


The technology is applied in a vegetable/arable production system on sandy soils in the Netherlands, but could be applied in various production systems on various soils. There are not directly environmental constraints for the application of certified organic agriculture.

Main characteristics of certified organic production can be found in the standards for organic production in the EU (Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007). Purpose of the technology is sustainable production in a broad sense. Concerning soil management, focus is on maintaining soil quality and preserving (soil) biodiversity. Major inputs are organic fertilizers. No synthetic fertilizers and no synthetic pesticides are used. In practice in the de Peel region where this technology is applied also the use of 'organic' pesticides is minimal.
The impacts of the technology are:
- a better soil quality in general,
- reduced nitrate emissions to groundwater,
- better water holding capacity,
- and more stable yield which are however on average 20% lower than conventional yield.

Yield reduction is mainly due to pests and diseases. The economic performance of the system is good (better than conventional production).
Land user like this technology because of the good economic result and because it call upon their craftmanship as a farmer. Then again, farmers dislike it because its complicated, and pests are sometimes hard to control and finally because of additional handlabour needed for weed control.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

De Peel

Further specification of location:

located close to the village Vredepeel

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • 0.1-1 km2

2.6 Date of implementation

Indicate year of implementation:


2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through land users' innovation
  • during experiments/ research
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

The rising awareness of the importance of sustainable production and landuse makes that organic farming more and more applied, in research/projects as well as by the farmers themselves.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • preserve/ improve biodiversity
  • adapt to climate change/ extremes and its impacts
  • create beneficial economic impact

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - barley
  • cereals - maize
  • legumes and pulses - peas
  • root/tuber crops - potatoes
  • root/tuber crops - sugar beet
  • vegetables - root vegetables (carrots, onions, beet, other)
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Main crops (cash and food crops): 1:6 rotation: potato, pea, leek, summer barley, sugarbeet, maize

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • mixed rainfed-irrigated

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • rotational systems (crop rotation, fallows, shifting cultivation)
  • integrated soil fertility management
  • integrated pest and disease management (incl. organic agriculture)

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A1: Vegetation/ soil cover
  • A2: Organic matter/ soil fertility
  • A5: Seed management, improved varieties
management measures

management measures

  • M2: Change of management/ intensity level

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by wind

soil erosion by wind

  • Et: loss of topsoil
chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)
physical soil deterioration

physical soil deterioration

  • Pc: compaction
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bs: quality and species composition/ diversity decline
  • Bl: loss of soil life
water degradation

water degradation

  • Hq: decline of groundwater quality

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

The most important aspects of organic agriculture are: application of only organic manure and no application of synthetic pesticides, with the idea that soil quality and environment can be positively effected by this.


Marie Wesselink



4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology area
Indicate size and area unit:

50 hectares

other/ national currency (specify):


If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Change machinery (mainly for weed control) before during conversion period
2. stop using synthetic pesticides and nutrient beforer conversion period
3. choose conversion period crops 2 years before start certified organic production
4. start conversion period (2 years) 2 years before start certified organic production
5. design and adapt crop choice and rotation before and during conversion period

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Equipment investments in mechanical weed control machinery piece 1.0 50000.0 50000.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 50000.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 57471.26

Establishement costs are hard to estimate because it depends on the farm specific situation. However there will be a need to adapt the machinery for weed control and also there will be costs (or actually losses in turnover and profitability) in the conversion period because crops grown in the conversion period cannot yet be sold as organic against a premium price.

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. mechanical weed control instead of herbicides each cropping season
2. Handlabour for weed control each cropping season
3. Spread of organic fertilisers instead of synthetic nutrients each cropping season

There are a lot of small items that change after adopting organic agriculture. I just mentioned the most relevant ones

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Additional handlabour mostly for weeding hours 250.0 160.0 40000.0 100.0
Labour Additional labour for mechanical weed control hours 75.0 160.0 12000.0 100.0
Equipment yearly costs of weed control mechanisation euro 1.0 5000.0 5000.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 57000.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 65517.24

The additional costs (compared to conventional) and yield losses are most of the time more than covered by additional income because of premium product prices. Costs are calculated for a 50 ha farm.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

handlabour for weed control

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Indicate the name of the reference meteorological station considered:

Volkel the Netherlands

Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • not relevant

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • high (>3%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

< 5 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

for agricultural use only (irrigation)

Is water salinity a problem?


Is flooding of the area occurring?


5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium
Habitat diversity:
  • medium

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Sedentary or nomadic:
  • Sedentary
Market orientation of production system:
  • commercial/ market
Off-farm income:
  • less than 10% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • rich
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • mechanized/ motorized
  • men
Age of land users:
  • middle-aged

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • medium-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, not titled
Land use rights:
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production

Comments/ specify:

Up till now, crop production is generally lower in organic agricultural systems compared to conventional systems.

product diversity

Comments/ specify:

Diversity is enhanced because of more organic matter application, no synthetic pesticide use, and no use of GMOs

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs

Comments/ specify:

organic planting material and manure are more expensive

farm income

Comments/ specify:

Organic products can be sold at a higher price if they are certified


Comments/ specify:

More (hand)weeding is needed because of no pesticide use

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

harvesting/ collection of water

Comments/ specify:

Due to better soil structure the water holding capacity of the soil increases, but also the natural drainage of the soil improves


soil moisture

Comments/ specify:

Due to higher organic matter (manure) inputs the water holding capacity of the soil improves

soil cover

Comments/ specify:

In general, soils used in organic agriculture are covered more months in a year, due to more usage of cover crops in winter season for example

nutrient cycling/ recharge

Comments/ specify:

More attention is paid to the nutrientcycles, cover crops are used to maintain nutrients for the next season

soil organic matter/ below ground C

Comments/ specify:

More organic matter is applied, slowly this will lead to a higher content in the soil

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

plant diversity

Comments/ specify:

No use of pesticides gives the opportunity for a diverse range of plants to develop

beneficial species

Comments/ specify:

Pesticides can also harm the beneficial species, no pesticides = more benificial species

habitat diversity

Comments/ specify:

The whole agricultural system gets more diverse due to more organic inputs and less pesticide inputs

pest/ disease control

Comments/ specify:

It is harder to control pests and diseases when synthetic pesticides are not allowed. There is no organic cure for all pests and diseases (yet)

Climate and disaster risk reduction

drought impacts

Comments/ specify:

Due to better soil structure the soil is less vulnerable for drought events

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

groundwater/ river pollution

Comments/ specify:

less nitrate leaching

6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

neutral/ balanced

Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly positive

Long-term returns:


6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • 1-10%
Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 91-100%

Adaptation is driving by the mindset that taking good care of soils and environment is very important

6.6 Adaptation

Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?


6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
higher income
better soil quality
more challenging
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
more sustainable
more resilient
lower nitrate leaching

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
more handlabour for weeding improving mechanical weeding techniques, more craftmanship
more losses due to pests and diseases resistant varieties. Robust plants and robust crops. Enhancement natural enemies. more crop diversity
more work in marketing the products better market organisation, cooperation
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
high dependency on abundant (partly conventional) animal husbandry in the region mixed farms or close cooperation between organic animal farms and arable farms
risk of dependency on biopesticides more resilient production systems, resistant varieties, enhancement natural enemies. Robust plants

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • interviews with land users

The landowner and some of the landworkers were consulted.

  • interviews with SLM specialists/ experts

The involved researchers were consulted.

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


Links and modules

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