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Dutch farmers share their historical soil surveys

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Eurofins Agro in the Netherlands has called on farmers and horticulturists to submit their old soil analysis reports for plots of land still in use. The Research & Development department is conducting extensive research into the consequences of soil management choices for soil fertility. Prizes were awarded to Eurofins Agro Nederland clients participating in this initiative.

The main prize for the campaign ‘Who has the oldest soil analysis report’ went to ‘Het Meulemans’ dairy farm in Dalfsen (Overijssel). This company holds archives of analytical reports dating back to 1945. ‘Het Meulemans’ thus wins the Soil Condition Score survey, and a Spear & Jackson spade.

Oldest report, from 1937

Second prize goes to F.J. Zijlker from Midwolda (Groningen). Although the firm doesn’t have the oldest complete series, it was actually able to submit a copy of the oldest analysis report. The report dates back to 1937. The former ‘Bedrijfslaboratorium voor Grond en Gewasonderzoek’ (BLGG), the earliest predecessor of Eurofins Agro, initiated soil analyses in 1928. So Zijlker’s soil analysis stems from the earliest phase of soil analyses in the Netherlands. F.J. Zijlker wins a CHECK analysis, as well as a Spear & Jackson spade.

Third and fourth prizes

The third and fourth prizes go to W. Sybenga from Middenmeer (Noord-Holland) and D.H. Schrage from Kiel-Windeweer (Groningen) respectively. They also win a CHECK analysis, and a Spear & Jackson spade. Sybenga holds the second-oldest analysis report, from 1943. Schrage submitted the most complete series of soil analysis, dating back to 1963.

Series of historical surveys

Eurofins Agro received submissions from dozens of clients. Using these submissions, Eurofins Agro will now be in a position to further research the course of soil fertility in the Netherlands. By linking series of historical surveys to interviews about soil management, Eurofins Agro will chart the consequences of past management choices on the current soil fertility properties of a plot.

Since digitisation it has become increasingly easy to save data from soil surveys, and to establish links based on averaged results. Eurofins Agro has recorded considerable data digitally since the mid-1980s. Older data is less readily available. From the period preceding 1984, some regional averages are available, but no data at the plot level. This campaign has yielded a great deal of interesting research material for Eurofins Agro.

Important info for the investigation

Arjan Reijneveld, Product Manager with Eurofins Agro, is enthusiastic about what clients have submitted. “It has exceeded our expectations. I think it demonstrates that farmers and horticulturists are very interested in the issue of soil fertility. We received wonderful material from a whole range of areas and soil types. We’ll now be working hard on further investigation.”