Cutting Waste

Traditional ways

The dike (polder) landscape of the Netherlands was primarily established to manage the hydrology of the area for agricultural and residential needs. These activities were started centuries ago, and were since formalized into Waterschappen, or Water Boards - a unique Dutch institution created to manage this shared resource across stakeholders.

For decades, maintainers of the actual polder areas have been tasked to cut grass in order to ensure water passage. Typically, this is handled by local tenant (pachter) farmers. In the past, the 'waste' from cuttings was sent to an incinerator. However, this resulted in high-value nutrients to be lost.

Making connections

After various farmers experimented successfully with alternative uses of this material, the community saw an opportunity to integrate these grass harvests for their own needs. The project developed a process to condition the materials as a soil amendment (Bokashi) as well as for other purposes. This reduced transportation costs, emissions, saved farm inputs, and more.

Thanks to these direct links between farms the conservation agency Natuurmonumenten, as well as local biological advisors, a new collaboration has become possible. The agency gains access to reliable and efficient harvesting services, while sustainable farmers receive a new source of material for their needs, and have the information needed to plan their activities in alignment with biological recommendations.

By optimizing cutting and collection/processing, significant energy - and money - is saved, while the harms of mowing are monitored and managed. As a result of having the support mechanism in place, it has become possible to scale this collaboration.

Supporting innovation

The Bokashi case study demonstrates how new opportunities become possible as a result of shared, collaborative supply chain innovation platforms. By helping monitor interest levels among tenant farmers and supporting engagement between tenants and landholding organizations, the Open Landscape Network is enabling producers to collaboratively identify and operationalize new business opportunities more easily. With each project and community innovation, it becomes easier for others to adopt this in other regions, and to further improve it for their needs.

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