Thanks to high production levels, a reduction in the use of crop protection agents, the reuse of waste materials and a low percentage of food waste, the Dutch agricultural industry has the smallest ecological footprint in the world. So concludes ABN AMRO in its online publication Agrarisch: circulair van huis uit, loosely translated as ‘The agricultural industry: circular from its very roots’.

The ABN AMRO bank has compiled a list of the cleanest and most polluting countries in the fields of agriculture. Nevertheless, Jan de Ruyter, sector banker at the Dutch Central Bank, confirms that it is almost impossible to rank all crops. “A great deal of research has been done, but this is highly fragmented. It is only when you put all the studies together that you are able to draw a coherent conclusion.”

Little waste

ABN AMRO’s claim that the Netherlands has the least polluting agricultural industry is based – among other reasons – on the high labour productivity, the limited use of chemical protection agents and antibiotics. The decline in the number of chemical protection agents used and the use of antibiotics has its roots in the strict legislation imposed by the Dutch government. Dutch legislation has therefore produced the desired effect with regard to curbing pollution within the agricultural industry.

Smart farming

In addition to this, the industry has been making use of residual and waste flows for many years. As such, a very limited quantity of raw materials is lost. Waste is also combated by making frugal use of raw materials and efficient food production. This efficient cultivation method owes its success partially to the use of sensors and data analysis: also known as smart farming.

Renewable energy

What also contributes to the small ecological footprint is the fact that farmers and horticulturists in the Netherlands are involved in the production of at least 42% of the renewable energy in the Netherlands. Many greenhouse horticulturists also use sustainable energy sources such as residual heat and solar energy. A total of 4.9% of all the energy in the Netherlands is used by the agricultural industry.

Source: ABN AMRO.