Land-related dairy farming

The dairy sector wants to be and remain a land-related sector. This is important for the dairy farming sector, the living environment and society. A land-related dairy farm has sufficient land and makes optimum use of the manure, making sure that the grass and other feed crops for the cattle can grow. In this way the cycle is closed.

In order to achieve this, the Sustainable Dairy Chain starts from the report Grondgebondenheid als basis voor een toekomstbestendige melkveehouderij [Land-relatedness as a basis for future-proof dairy farming], which the independent Commission for Land-relatedness in Dairy Farming published at the request op LTO Nederland and the NZO in 2018.

Support from society

The vision on land-related dairy farming is the way for the sector to remain future-proof with support from society. Growing grass and feed crops and making optimum use of manure for this at the own farm and nearby, if possible in cooperation with other sectors, e.g. the agricultural sector, make a contribution to closing the cycle, cutting down emissions and caring for the soil. Therefore land-relatedness is a precondition for achieving other sustainability objectives and corresponds with the cycle vision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

Implementation of the advice of Grondgebondenheid als basis voor een toekomstbestendige melkveehouderij [Land-relatedness as a basis for future-proof dairy farming] is a way of working towards the anchoring of land-relatedness. By following a still to be drawn up action plan, the advice will be integrally implemented together with the partners required for this implementation as mentioned in the advice.

Four building blocks of land-relatedness

  1. At least 65% of the protein in the feed of the cow must come from the own land or from the direct surroundings of the dairy farm. This means that every dairy farm must be able to supply a large part of its own need for protein.
  2. For setting up local roughage-manure cycles, a dairy farmer can enter into a neighbourhood contract with another farmer within a radius of 20 kilometres concerning the supply and the buying of manure. Only if the dairy farmer can produce at least 50 percent of his need for roughage on his own land, it is possible to enter into a neighbourhood contract.
  3. For the land-related character of a dairy farm, a large enough land parcel with grass is needed. This facilitates grazing and provides an attractive image of the dairy farming sector in the typically Dutch cultural landscape. A dairy farm may have a maximum of 10 dairy cows per hectare land parcel suitable for grazing in 2025.
  4. Because of a higher self-sufficiency rate for protein, the need for importing protein-rich raw materials, such as soy and palm kernels, strongly decreases. This means less dependence on the world market and less pressure on the nature in South America and South-east Asia. The import of these raw materials for use in dairy cows’ feed must have been reduced by two thirds in 2025.

A video explaining land-related dairy farming (in Dutch)

Objectives 2030

The dairy farming sector will be land-related in conformity with the advice of the Commission Land-relatedness in Dairy Farming in 2025.

Need of protein

  • Every farm is largely self-sufficient.
  • 65% protein from own land or from nearby
    (based on a moving average over 3 years).

Local cycles

  • Protein from own land (or from nearby) and manure on own land (or nearby).
    • Based on the neighbourhood contracts within a radius of 20 km (if 50% self-sufficient).

Land parcel with grass

  • Large enough land parcel for grazing.
    • A maximum of 10 dairy cows per hectare on a land parcel suitable for grazing.

Based on an increase of the production of protein from own land or nearby, the import of protein-rich raw materials will strongly decrease

  • Less dependent on import of protein-rich concentrates (soy, palm kernels).
  • Two thirds less import and setting up of certification system.


NB Results compared to sector objectives 2030 are not available yet.

Method of working

    • An Action Plan is under development with respect to the implementation of the advice of the Commission Land-relatedness in Dairy Farming, including a roll-out towards the year 2025.
    • All dairy farmers have insight into the protein part from own land in the dashboard environment and climate nearby of the Animal Nutrient Cycling Assessment.
    • In cooperation with the WUR a study is conducted on how we can better calculate the part of protein from own land. For the year 2021 the Animal Nutrient Cycling Assessment calculates based on the part of protein from own land in the feed.
    • The objective of the Home Made Eiwit [Home-made protein] is to lift the protein management at dairy farms to a higher level. Less import of soy from overseas areas is an important objective for the Dutch dairy chain. This can be achieved by a higher protein production, but in particular by making better use of the protein that is produced on the own land. In cooperation with a group of trial farms, a study is started on how to decrease the import and supply of protein to the dairy farm.
    • With the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality a study is conducted on how the (new) manure policy can facilitate the actualisation of neighbourhood contracts.
    • Various companies stimulate to increase the part of protein from own land.
    • The part of protein from own land is part of the biodiversity monitor.
    • In a pilot met het Kadaster [pilot with the cadastre] the availability of land parcel in connection with land-relatedness and possibilities for this are studied.
    • With the government and provinces a study is conducted on how to facilitate having the disposal of a land parcel.