The farmers are testing a comprehensive set of interrelated measures to improve water retention. These include hydrological solutions (such as small weirs) and measures to increase soil organic matter (e.g. by reducing soil tillage). Steps are also taken to promote more extensive and deeper rooting, and to select crops and varieties that that are relatively drought-tolerant. These include tall fescue, red clover and selected maize cultivars.
Drought susceptibility is often a problem in upland sandy soils. Various factors, including climate change and water abstraction, are leading to lower groundwater tables. For both agriculture and society in general it is important to limit the negative effects of desiccation on soils and ecosystems.
This project is a collaboration between the ZLTO farmers network, Brabant Water, the 'Aa en Maas' Water Board, the Dutch Dairy Board, the steering group for agricultural innovation in Brabant (LIB), the Rabobank of Bernheze, the Foundation for Applied Water Research (STOWA) and the Louis Bolk Institute.
Related publications (all in Dutch):
BufferBoeren Nieuwsbrief #1
Bufferboeren: agrariërs en waterbeheerders gezamenlijk aan de slag