The Fjildlab is a field laboratory in which entrepreneurs, environmental associations but also researchers, local governments are working together to develop a more sustainable agriculture in Northeast Friesland. It starts from a simple observation “producing always more puts pressure on prices but also on landscapes, a phenomenon that will increase with climate change” explains Durk Durksz, Fjildlab’s project leader. “So, we are looking for new earning models, a new form of agriculture and economy. We strive for a high-quality landscape, an agriculture resistant to the influences of climate change. We call it ‘nature-inclusive circular agriculture’”.

How does it work? The approach is of course bottom-up, but the true originality resides elsewhere. It is called the quadruple helix. We all know of the DNA “double helix”. This field-lab is made of 4 helixes: administration, experts, entrepreneurs, citizens (NGOs). Together, they are the core structure of the field-lab.

They meet around 8 knowledge tables, all chaired by a researcher. The 8 topics are: nature, landscape and biodiversity; soil; water and agriculture; sustainable energy; manure; feed; mitigation and adaptation to salinization. Here, ideas start bottom-up. Local governments, farmers, entrepreneurs and stakeholders discuss issues, opportunities and come up with business plans and projects (almost 100 already).

The Fjildlab is part of the regional public policy called RegioDeal. The regional authority, here called the Province of Friesland, funds 16.2 million euros of the lab on a 5 yea plan (2018-2024). 10 other million come from the government and 6 other million must be funded by farmers, entrepreneurs, or universities such as VHL.

The Fjildlab was presented by its Project Leader, Mr. Durk Durksz, who is also an experimented professional in agricultural education and a former municipal council member.

Project partners met with some of Fjildlab’s active members on 4 February 2020 at KEI-NOF, a knowledge and network center for entrepreneurs in Northeast Friesland.

4 people (farmers, researchers and entrepreneurs) gave short pitches on the latest projects and project ideas by members of roundtables: Sietze de Kievit (Food Waste Market), Inez Dinkla (Wetsus), Marc van Rijsselberghe (Marc Foods), Mindert de Vries (Van Hall Larenstein).

Food waste is an unexplored economic market. The VerspillingsMarkt (literally Food Waste Market) aims at reducing waste throughout the food chain. It investigates which products can be made from the residual flows, side flows, losses and how they could be marketed together with creating new job opportunities. Project partners got the chance to taste delicious old bread fries, old vegetable balls as well as tomato wine (just a sip). Several of these products were elaborated with VHL students. More info

Salinization of farming land is a fast-growing worldwide problem, especially with climate change. Vast areas of formerly arable land are no longer being used, which causes unemployment and food shortage. For this purpose, the Salt Farm Foundation created a state-of-the-art outdoor lab: a trial field where can be examined the salt tolerance of a variety of crops with great precision. They discovered many crops, ranging from potatoes and carrots to strawberries and tomatoes, that thrive under saline conditions. Project partners all got home with 1kg of salt-tolerant potatoes.  More info : On the open-air laboratory: