Digitalisation of Dutch Agriculture: Implications of reducing Nitrogen pollution from livestock cultivation


For the last many decades, the EU’s intensified agriculture model has shown a significant trend to reinforce the economy while feeding the world. The Netherlands is one of the EU’s member follow neoliberalism in agriculture by importing cheap animal feed & fertilisers and exports meat & dairy products. The intensification of Dutch agriculture results from solid collaborations among the Agriculture Innovation System actors (AIS). Nitrogen (N), being one of the essential elements of building blocks of life, is a vital nutrient, an indicator for global food security, and supports agriculture’s intensification. N in fertilisers and feedstock’s intensive use comes with the consequences of wicked problems such as ammonia (NH3) emissions in the air and nitrates (NOX) leaching in the soil. Around two-thirds of the Dutch farmlands and 80% of the crop, fertiliser is used for livestock cultivation. The Netherlands is famous for technological innovations worldwide (in terms of niche innovation); however, digitalisation is still an ‘alien’ term for Dutch farmers. A lack of landscapelevel technology implementation, weak policy infrastruture for monitoring pollution dynamics is one of the leading causes of the nitrogen crisis in the Netherlands. The N-crisis is causing distress in farmers, and the government is struggling for effective policy implementation. Therefore, there is a need for state-of-art initiatives which utilise maximum involvement of technology and the environment with minimum (government) efforts. This holistic and explorative cast-study research highlights the challenges and consequences of the Digitalisation of Agriculture Innovation System (DAIS) to resolve the Dutch N-crisis. Different aspects of research covered are 1) to address associates knowledge gaps, 2) analyse the cause of complex N-crisis in the Netherlands, 3) to analyse the current state of Dutch policy infrastructure & challenges and 4) to analyse present & future trend of DAIS transformations. This will ultimately lead to technology and policy recommendation supporting multistakeholders collaboration, creating a market of Nitrogen Trading System (NTS) at multiple levels and using digitalisation as a key for establishing Sustainable System Transformation (SST).


fertiliser, Netherlands, European Union, neoliberalism, agriculture, Nitrogen, digitalisation

How to Cite

Kumar, I., (2021) “Digitalisation of Dutch Agriculture: Implications of reducing Nitrogen pollution from livestock cultivation”, Science for Sustainability (S4S) Journal 4(1). doi:







Inder Kumar orcid logo (University of Reading)





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