Designed research Biobased (re) building on the outskirts of the city | news

News feature | 14-07-2022 | 11:22

What do bio-based crops provide for the farmer and for the landscape? Bio-based building materials are necessary for a circular economy. But can bio-based crops also contribute to the landscape and can the farmer also earn a living with it? Commissioned by the Board of Government Advisors and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and in collaboration with the province of Utrecht, the Nature Doublers and BOOM Landscape offices have prepared this problem for the Groot Haarzuilens study area, on the northwestern outskirts of the area. by Utrecht. The results can be found in the design research Biobased (re) construction in Groot Haarzuilens.

Detailed cover publication

They investigated how bio-based crops can help solve the stacked problem with the urban edge. It is a search for new opportunities for the landscape that not only provides raw materials for bio-based building materials, but also connects city and country, strengthens scenic and recreational routes from city to landscape and contributes to climate challenges and improved biodiversity.

It is necessary that the yield of cultivation goes up and that the farmer is rewarded for the social (ecosystem) services he provides.


The design provides concrete recommendations: “A transition to bio-based cultivation over a period of 30 years provides social, ecological and economic values ​​for a region. Therefore, various incentives (legal, political, etc.) are needed to make the cultivation of bio-based materials a success. ” Although the social value of crops is usually high to very high, the economic return for farmers is usually still (much) too low to switch to bio-based cultivation and cultivation. In order to improve the business case, it is necessary on the one hand that the yield of the cultivation increases, and on the other hand that the farmer is rewarded for the social (ecosystem) services that he provides.

Drawing and calculation

With the help of research by design, we gain insight into ‘what if’ questions. Designed research does not produce plans, but examines what is possible if the landscape is used for the cultivation of bio-based materials. In this research, ‘drawing and calculation’ is explicitly linked. BOOM Landskab has made the landscape analysis and thereby outlines a recruitment perspective that shows different possibilities and possibilities for a bio-based production landscape. The calculations are performed by Natuurdoublers. They used a tool specially developed for this research, which can calculate both the social and economic value of a crop. The tool also calculates the cost of doing nothing: what are the economic and social costs of unchanged land use? Calculations were made on the basis of the farmer’s earnings model (business case) and the social return (value case). Think about the benefits of landscape quality, CO2 reduction and salvage prevention.

Image: BOOM Landscape and Nature Doublers

Scenario sketch in layers

And now?

The specific recommendations from the study will be further explored and elaborated in the coming period. The Ministry of the Interior is working on this. Hanna Lára Palsdottir, Program Manager Biobased Building, City Deal Circular and Conceptual Building in the ministry says: “Minister De Jonge is very enthusiastic about this research and the opportunities that biobased crops offer in relation to the major challenges we currently face. Bio-based production is an important spearhead in the Beautiful Netherlands program. We are committed to ensuring that the revenue models for bio-based crops can really evolve. Think about the valorization of carbon storage in crops. In the coming period, we will work with political support and draw the attention of our colleagues from the National Rural Program. Together, we will explore bio-based cultivation as a possible strategy and perspective for farmers. We will also develop this theme further within City Deal and Building Balance. We are not done yet. ”

For Engeli Kummeling, consultant for spatial design and sustainability in the province of Utrecht, it only starts in earnest. “I am very pleased that this study is now available. My advice is that the results and recommendations be included for inspiration in area development and relevant provincial programs. The research can provide inspiration for programs that stem from the Environmental Vision and tasks related to nature, agriculture and nitrogen. In addition, it shows that we must solve the tasks in an integrated way. The research also offers concrete building blocks for circular area development in the province of Utrecht. “and sees reason for follow-up. The province can stimulate circular opportunities such as bio-based cultivation and develop this together with regional and local partners. This enriches the income model of different farmers.”

Three case studies

This research is part of a broader course of a total of three case studies in different provinces. In addition to this study area for the urban edges, studies have also been carried out on possibilities for bio-based cultivation in a peat meadow area and an agricultural area on clay soil. These studies appear in late summer. Then the calculation tool will also be available as open source for use in other regions.

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