07 May 2020

Multiyear practical study of strip cropping: Nature Field

Cosun, CZAV and farmer Eugène van den Eijnden have started a unique experiment with the support of their partners in the supply chain to determine whether profitable farming can go hand in hand with nature development. The feasibility of strip cropping, an ecologically balanced method of arable farming, is being studied in a 12 hectare field in west Brabant.

The Nature Field is located on the Dassenberg estate close to Steenbergen. The land is farmed by Eugène van den Eijnden and the estate owner Henry Deckers. It is hoped the field will support a rich biodiversity, high soil fertility and economical and sustainable food production. Ten crops will be grown in strips six metres wide. Useful insects will be able to jump from one strip to another but harmful ones will not, academic research suggests. The width of the strips is also in keeping with the standardised size of harvesters and other farm machines. As well as potatoes, sugar beet and chicory, the crops will include rye, summer wheat and marrowfat peas. Other strips will feature flowers, hedges and beetle banks.

Fields that are strip cropped are less vulnerable to diseases and pests than monoculture fields and suffer far less crop loss. Crop protection is left largely to insects. The use of herbicides and pesticides is kept to a minimum.

The Nature Field concept was initially floated by HAS University of Applied Sciences 's-Hertogenbosch. “To assure global food supply and enabled by mechanisation, arable farming mainly focused on producing as much as possible at the lowest possible cost for decades”, explains lecturer Erwin van Woudenberg. “Combining nature and arable farming is an important next step. It stimulates biodiversity, creates a beautiful landscape and reduces the use of crop protection agents.” HAS University of Applied Sciences has therefore studied how we can develop a nature area with regular crops that produce a profitable harvest. That’s the Nature Field. Theoretically, it should be feasible. We have to find out whether it will also be economically viable.”

Cosun’s sustainability ambitions
To determine whether this will be the case in practice, Van Woudenberg looked for a farmer and other parties who would be willing to participate. Through its business groups Suiker Unie, Sensus and Aviko, Cosun has taken the initiative alongside farmer Eugène van den Eijnden and CZAV to test the theory in practice. “The Nature Field is a perfect match for Cosun’s sustainability ambitions,” says René Schunselaar, Agro manager at Sensus. “We will fund any additional costs of the demonstration project and support the farmer with advice.” That the time is right to study alternative cropping systems is also due to the precision farming methods that are emerging. “They open the door to small-scale but robust arable production methods,” Schunselaar explains. “Cosun is willingly taking the initiative to gain practical experience, also of the commercial side.”

Exemplary project
Spring crops were recently sown in the Nature Field. The experience gained will be used over the years to refine and experiment with, for instance, the use of insects and other crop protection agents. “In the meantime we will look for other parties who are engaged in biodiversity and sustainability and who want to join in. Several parties in the Circular Sugar Beet Green Circles, such as North Brabant province, Naturalis and ZLTO, are already working with our Cosun business groups,” says Schunselaar. “If the Nature Field is a success, it will be an exemplary project for all arable farmers, not only in the Netherlands, but throughout the world,” Erwin van Woudenberg concludes.

Breda, 7 May 2020

For more information contact
+31 (0)165 525 184.

Suiker Unie going forward under the name Cosun Beet Company

02 July 2020

Cosun Beet Company. This is the new name announced today by the former Suiker Unie. “A name that seamlessly matches our new strategy,” says CEO Paul Mesters. “Sugar beet are the source...

Suiker Unie to present new strategy under a new name on 2 July

15 June 2020

Suiker Unie will announce a new strategy and a new name on 2 July. ‘With the new strategy we can respond to changing consumer demands and new opportunities in the market with a future-proof name,’...

Suiker Unie refining thick juice

12 May 2020

Suiker Unie started its annual campaign to refine thick juice into granulated sugar this week. Despite the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus guidance, the sugar factories in Dinteloord and Vierverlaten...

Coronavirus: health and safety first

25 March 2020

Cosun and Suiker Unie have set up a crisis team to deal with the effects of the corona crisis and keep their primary processes running. The overriding goal is to provide maximum protection to our staff,...

Cosun Solar Park Puttershoek: 20 megawatts of sustainable energy

18 March 2020

The contracts have been signed. Cosun Solar Park Puttershoek will be built this year. Following a call for tenders, the initiator and client, Suiker Unie, selected KiesZon to build the gigantic solar park....

Suiker Unie Roosendaal: Excellence Award for Consistent TPM

12 February 2020

Suiker Unie’s sugar specialities factory in Roosendaal has won the Excellence Award for Consistent TPM. After coming through the final audit by two Japanese auditors, the facility received the good...

Beet sugar more sustainable than cane sugar

22 January 2020

The production of Dutch beet sugar produces considerably less CO2 and fine particles than the production of cane sugar. Beet sugar also requires far less land and consumes significantly less water. These...

Sustainable Industry Challenge 2020: Suiker Unie selects Bioextrax as winner with the best innovation

13 January 2020

Suiker Unie has selected Bioextrax as the winner of its challenge in the green chemical theme of the Sustainable Industry Challenge 2020. This global competition was held by Economic Board Groningen to...

Beet growers were awarded the highest SAI sustainability level: FSA Gold

27 November 2019

All Suiker Unie’s sugar beet growers have been awarded FSA Gold level. The Sustainable Agricultural Initiative platform supports sustainable farming initiatives and assesses the sustainability of...

Major international challenge for green solutions in the chemical and energy sectors

05 November 2019

In collaboration with its partners in the north of the Netherlands, Economic Board Groningen is organising an international pitch event for innovative scale-ups in the green chemical, recycling and green...

Suiker Unie to produce protein from plant leaves

11 October 2019

Suiker Unie officially took its Green Protein Demo Plant into operation on 10 October and started producing protein from sugar beet foliage. The production process is a unique, pioneering method that Suiker...

Suiker Unie wins 2019 FNLI award

11 October 2019

Suiker Unie won the 2019 FNLI award on 10 October. The Dutch Food Industry Federation (FNLI) introduced the award this year for people or teams that go to extraordinary lengths to raise innovative initiatives...

Early but staggered start to the beet campaign

06 September 2019

The sugar beet campaign will have a staggered start this year. The sugar factories will start production on 6 September in Dinteloord and on 10 September in Anklam and Groningen. Logistically, a staggered...

Suiker Unie awarded EcoVadis gold rating for fifth year in succession

02 September 2019

EcoVadis has again awarded Suiker Unie a gold rating. We are extremely proud that our commitment to sustainability has been recognised for the fifth year in succession and crowned with a gold rating for...

Furthering sustainability together with Green Circles

18 April 2019

A beautiful location and sunny day provided a perfect start for the ‘Green Circles’ sugar beet circular economy. On 18 April 2019, Suiker Unie, the province of North Brabant, and Naturalis...

New bulk trucks running entirely on Suiker Unie’s own green gas

14 February 2019

Technical advances recently made it possible to have gas-fuelled trucks transport train weights of up to 50 tonnes. The 410 hp tractor units will make Suiker Unie’s bulk transport operations even...

First consumer products launched with Betafib®

22 January 2019

‘Royal COSUN Biobased Products’, part of Suiker Unie, introduced 100% bio-based rheology modifier, developed during PULP2VALUE demonstration project, for various consumer applications such...

Unveiling of the world’s first completely circular car

06 July 2018

On Friday 6 July, Noah, the world's first completely circular car, was unveiled at the Cosun Innovation Centre in Dinteloord. The two-seater car, the chassis of which is largely made of sugar and the...