Not every circular farmer is the same

Governing towards efficiency and recycling is not the same as an alternative production chain.
Photo: Eddy Teenstra

Most farmers attempt to incorporate circular agriculture into the existing agricultural model, but there are also farmers who create alternative business practices and sales markets. This is revealed by a study conducted by Wageningen researchers Hans Dagevos and Carolien de Lauwere. They interviewed thirteen farmers who are committed to circular agriculture.

The current approach to circular farming is directed at efficient use of resources, healthy soils, cutting back losses and recycling waste streams. This approach fits in with the linear take-make-waste economy, say the researchers, and depends on technological solutions to close the cycle. This approach allows farmers to cut costs and continue to produce for a global market.

With farmers such as these, we can hope to surpass the initial stages in which the circular economy and circular agriculture now find themselves

Hans Dagevos

On the other hand, there are those farmers that choose an alternative strategy. They adjust their business plan by focusing on the quality of products and the environment rather than maximising production. Moreover, they seek new sales markets and conscientious consumers for their products. Thus, they contribute to a new agricultural model based on ‘enough’ and ‘sufficient’.

Dominant

In their article ‘Circular business models and circular agriculture: Perceptions and practices of Dutch farmers’, which was published in the journal Sustainability, Dagevos and De Lauwere state that the first, adaptive approach is dominant in Dutch view on agriculture within the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

However, several of the thirteen farmers they spoke with, chose an alternative method. These farmers do not consider the circular economy business as usual and see that transforming existing agriculture into circular agriculture entails much more than is contained in the ministry’s vision on agriculture. Hans Dagevos: ‘With farmers such as these, we can hope to surpass the initial stages in which the circular economy and circular agriculture now find themselves.’

Dagevos and De Lauwere’s paper is relevant to a series of articles published by WUR during Circularity Week.

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