Auteur: Van Dijk H., Schukking S. and Van der Berg R.
Jaar van uitgifte: 2015
Dairy farming in the Netherlands has shown big changes during the last 50 years as a consequence of various technical, economic and social developments. The cost of labour has increased greatly and therefore labour productivity has also increased. In order to achieve a reasonable financial income on the mainly small family farms, scaling up and intensification of those farms was necessary. Agricultural research and extension services significantly contributed to realising these goals. In particular, there was a need to increase the productivity of farmland, and both the quality and utilisation of the crops. The application rate of fertilizers, particularly nitrogen, increased strongly, as did the use of organic manures. Quality of grassland improved (due to re-sowing and use of high quality grass-seed mixtures) and the management was intensified. Planned grazing systems and new methods of hay and silage making led to significantly improved forage quality and a higher milk production. Including silage maize and concentrates, as well as the effects of breeding further contributed to increased milk production. All these changes meant that, over a period of 50 years, the average number of dairy cows per farm increased ten-fold, to about 85, the average milk production per cow doubled to somewhat more than 8,000 kg, the milk production per ha trebled to about 15,000 kg ha‑1 and there was a ten-fold reduction in the number of dairy farms to about 18,000. These developments have coincided with the introduction of modernised cow houses, mechanisation and automation. The introduction of milk quota in the EU led to a slowdown in the developments. EU rules with regard to derogation, manure residues and N content of ground water, but also national rules with regard to environment and nature, have during the last years limited the further scaling-up and intensification of dairy farms.