Inspiration Farm

The Soil Heroes showcase farm makes a case for large-scale regenerative arable farming in The Netherlands and beyond.

In short

Soil Heroes Family lead
Soil Heroes Foundation
Focus area(s)
Community buildingKnowledge developmentBest Practices
Phase of project
pilot
Farm
Klompe Landbouw
Type of crops
Soy beans, naked oats, rice, potato's, weats
Phase of RegenAg
Regenerative
RegenAg practices
Lane farming, shallow tillage, reduce artificial inputs, CTF
Inspiration Farm

Partners

The Klompe Farm
Wageningen Universiteit

Soil Heroes Foundation catalyzes the transition to regenerative agriculture

The Soil Heroes Family holds two impact-driven entities: Soil Heroes Operations (SHO) and Soil Heroes Foundation (SHF). Soil Heroes Operations makes nature everyone's business by quantifying impact of regenerative farming, transparent market mechanisms and revenue models for regenerative agriculture. SHF catalyzes the transition to regenerative agriculture via knowledge, best practices and community building. The showcase farm is initiated by the SHF and will generate knowledge development, best practices and host parts of the family's community.

Wageningen University, Klompe Landbouw and SHF launched its first showcase farm for large-scale regenerative agricultural farming in North-Western Europe. The objective of the showcase farm is to demonstrate the ecological and financial benefits for large-scale arable farms to transit to regenerative agriculture. SHF leads the research, Wageningen University peer reviews the models and results of the research projects and Klompe Landbouw provides the land and manages farm operations. Mellany Klompe, the founder of Soil Heroes Foundation, is convinced that transiting towards regenerative agriculture not only benefits farmers but society as a whole. The showcase farm will also host inspiration sessions for farmers, public officials, and companies aiming to join the transition towards regenerative (organic) agriculture.

The degradation of soils is a threat to public health, combating climate change and our food supply

Since the start of the industrial revolution, intensive agriculture has pushed farmers into dependency on artificial inputs and heavy machinery for short term gain. Yet the reality for most intensive agricultural farmers is long term failure, financial and contractual commitments which hold them in a negative financial and environmental cycle. Most arable farmers are under serious pressure due to degrading soils, decreasing margins, and a negative public opinion towards the effects of intensive agriculture. According to Mellany Klompe, both society and farmers start to see the limitations of intensive agriculture.

The main problem

"The main problem humanity is currently facing is not global warming, extinction of species or any other environmental crisis-the main problem we will have to face is the degradation of our soils"

One of the driving factors of the negative spiral is the degradation of soils

In 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organization stated that "The main problem humanity is currently facing is not global warming, extinction of species or any other environmental crisis-the main problem we will have to face is the degradation of our soils". According to soil scientists, with the current rates of soil destruction, we will not only suffer serious damage to public health due to degraded food supply, characterized by diminished nutrition and loss of important trace minerals, but we will have no longer have enough topsoil to feed ourselves, halt the loss of biodiversity or keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Regenerating soils as a starting point for an upwards spiral for both farmers and society

Healthy soils are capable of producing high quality, nutrient dense food while simultaneously improving, rather than degrading land, and ultimately leading to productive farms and healthy communities and economies. Healthy soils reduce and eventually eliminate, the demand for artificial input and heavy machinery, which in turn improves the environmental and financial case for both farmers and society.

The showcase farm will fill the practical knowledge gap for large-scale arable farmers 

Currently, the interest in regenerative organic agriculture is growing amongst a wide variety of actors, varying from farmers to (food) companies to investors. There is a lot of conceptual information about regenerative agriculture but a lack of practical information for farmers on how to transit towards regenerative organic agriculture, including benefits, costs, a phased approach matching their local climate and -context. Jeroen Klompe (Farming director of Klompe Landbouw): "Farmers need to see, feel and smell the land, and learn new practices from farmers, rather than from consultants composing models behind their desks". To fill the knowledge gap for farmers, the first Soil Heroes showcase farm will generate practical knowledge for farmers to transit to regenerative (organic) agriculture by enabling peer-2-peer learning, validating regenerative agricultural practices, and accompanying business cases for farmers in The North- West European context.

We believe

"We believe that the right combination of high tech and regenerative agriculture create a new commercial future for farmers"

The showcase farm tests regenerative agricultural practices and their effect on soil health and ecosystem services

The showcase farm is located in De Hoeksche Waard, South Holland, on clay soil. On 75 hectares, regenerative (organic) agricultural practices are tested, while 30 hectares are managed conventionally, as the point of reference. The biggest ambition of the showcase farm is to demonstrate the relationship between regenerative farming practices, soil health, and ecosystem services. Currently, the farm implements; (1) lane farming, including cash crops, ancient crops, biodiversity lanes, and cover crops; (2) reducing artificial inputs for weed and disease control, while increasing the use of homemade bio-fertilizers and increasing diversity in their cultivation plans; (3) Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF), which translates into adjusting driving lanes and agricultural machinery to reduce the damage to soil caused by heavy or repeated agricultural machinery passing on the land; (4) Shallow tillage. The impact of the several practices on carbon sequestration, water retention capacity, above and below-ground biodiversity, and nutrition in the soil and crops, is monitored. Next to the testing of practices, various monitoring tools for farmers and agronomists to measure the soil health holistically are tested.

Learning by doing 

As with every learning journey, none go without mistakes. Mellany has a big smile on her face when she explains a costly miscalculation they once made on the showcase farm. They were looking for natural mineral additives, as an alternative for artificial additives. The solution was found: rock dust. When the truck with rock dust entered the farm, the weight of the material was already shown. The rock dust had such a fine structure, that 1 big bag was too heavy to spread over the field in an economic manner that wouldn't increase soil compaction by driving a trillion times up and down. For a whole year, the foundation and Klompe Landbouw undertook tests on how to get the rock dust spread over the 75 hectares. After 1 year, a perfect mixture of with rock-dust, bio-fertilizer and compost was figured out, which could feed the 75 hectares. Soil Heroes shares all positive and negative experiences to ensure other farmers learn from their mistakes and experiences, and can accelerate in their transition to regenerative farming practices.

Soil Heroes makes nature everyone's business.

 Do you want to make profit through purpose, become part of a group of frontrunning companies and farmers that turn the tide of our agricultural and food system? Join us! We are looking for partners for our projects with farmers. Soil Heroes connects farmers and companies to jointly restore nature on a massive scale.
Get in touch with us via: rubie@soilheroes.com or call: +31(0)619077484

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