A new system to monitor progress in circular agriculture on the farm

In a new collaboration, Wageningen University and Research, the Louis Bolk Institute and the Boerenverstand consultancy will be building a system to monitor progress in circular agriculture on the farm. This makes it possible to reward farmers who make progress. In the coming years, the knowledge consortium will test an integral set of Critical Performance Indicators (KPIs) for circular agriculture in practice.

Discussions about sustainable circular agriculture regularly concern the importance of long-term goals, an integrated approach and revenue models. In other words, farmers want to know where they stand in the long term in terms of government policy. Managing individual files is often ineffective in this regard. It makes more sense to work together on the farm on soil, water, biodiversity and climate. One could also think of rewarding farmers financially if they deliver sustainability performance.

Clarity with performance indicators

Entrepreneurs need clarity and a set of integral Critical Performance Indicators can help with this. At the moment, policy and chain partners often focus on separate themes, which creates unrest and uncertainty. Owner of Boerenverstand, Frank Verhoeven, says: “On the farm, all the challenges come together. The farmer is crying out for clarity. We are working on a good working KPI system that offers that clarity”.

Increase entrepreneurial freedom

Well-functioning Critical Performance Indicators help to reduce regulatory burden. Agricultural entrepreneurs suffer a lot from measures and regulations. One can do something about this by focusing more on goals and monitoring business results. Entrepreneurs can decide for themselves how ambitiously they want to perform on the sustainability themes that affect the company.

Reward sustainability performance

If the sustainable performance of agricultural entrepreneurs is demonstrable, buyers, social parties and the government can more easily reward this financially. Area coordinator and former mayor Wouter de Jong says the following about it: “We want to contribute to an agricultural policy that focuses on goals instead of means and that rewards farmers with a fair price for sustainable performance”.

Collaboration builds on current projects

There are already critical performance indicators in dairy and arable farming. This project builds on experiences in those sectors and develops and tests the indicators with practice in the experimental areas for circular agriculture. These areas have been designated by the minister and offer farmers the space to deviate temporarily from regulations in order to experiment with circular agriculture.

This project delivers a basic KPI set that can be used for multiple sustainability goals and sectors in multiple regions. Project leader Anne Charlotte Hoes of Wageningen Economic Research is pleased with the collaboration: The knowledge consortium of LBI, common sense and WUR is a nice mix of thinkers and doers. We really need both to realize this promising KPI instrument.”

The progress and results of this project can be found at: www.wur.nl/kpi .


Read the article by WUR in Dutch language

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