How can I preserve my land? That is a question many farmers ask themselves every day. Jan-Cees van der Maas from the Netherlands is one of them. That’s why he regularly analyzes his water and started using biological products.
Jan-Cees van der Maas wants to preserve his land for his children later on.
In 2012, a completely new chapter began for Jan-Cees van der Maas and his family. The land of the 47-year-old farmer was turned into a nature reserve. In Numansdorp – close to the North Sea – he had the chance to start a completely new and modern farming business. “My parents were also farmers. When we were children, my brothers always said: ‘You will be the farmer.’ So it’s in my genes,” says Jan-Cees van der Maas. He hopes that one of his three sons will continue the family tradition when the time comes. “It’s worth nothing if I try to get as much profit as possible out of my land and in 20 to 30 years the soil is terrible.”
How farmers keep water clean
Thus, he constantly tries to improve the sustainability level on his farm. An important measure for him is preserving water. Avoiding surface water contamination remains a major challenge in the Netherlands. Dutch farmers have to reduce emissions by 50% by 2018 and by 90% by 2023 compared to 2013 levels. Jan-Cees van der Maas has already taken action. “We spray only when it is not windy and we use special low-drift nozzles,” he explains. What’s more, he is really careful when cleaning his machines and makes sure that no oil runs into the water. However, Jan-Cees van der Maas wants to do more, which is why he started a water trial. “I take water samples every other week,” the farmer says. In a laboratory, it will be investigated which circumstances make the water cleaner. “This way I know exactly what I can improve in the future.”
Jan takes samples regularly to further increase the sustainability level on his farm.
As an addition to chemical crop protection, Jan-Cees van der Maas began using biological products. For a start, in cooperation with Bayer he is performing a trial with the fungicide SerenadeTM, which has a global exemption from maximum residue levels (MRLs). “I think biologicals are a good complement to chemical products,” he says.
Jan-Cees van der Maas is really proud of what he has created in the past five years. That’s why he is looking forward to being host of the 2017 Tour de Farm on September 8. The event is organized by Bayer and the potato processor Farm Frites. “It’s great to exchange knowledge among the various stakeholders to further improve the quality of my potatoes,” he says. “Farming is always challenging – but that’s also the beauty of it.”