Agro Meats Nature

Project: Research

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Main research question/goal

To what extent is it feasible (economically and ecologically), as a conventional farm to let cows graze in nature reserves? To what extent can such extensive grazing be a win-win for agriculture and nature? The Agromeat project aims to build up technical knowledge about this challenge. The aim is to collect data on the basis of a case study in a concrete project area in Berlare - Zele - Lokeren. In Flanders there is competition for scarce open space between the agricultural function and the nature goals, which sometimes results in conflicts between agriculture and nature. The aim of this project is to allow farmers to remain active in areas that are/will be colored as nature areas, in such a way that they create economic added value while respecting nature objectives.

Research approach

The knowledge is built up in a co-creative fashion (nature partners, farmers and researchers) and based on a case study in East Flanders. The project area is located in the region 'Berlare, Zele, Lokeren'. The farmers present in and around the project area are invited to participate in the monitoring of the operational management and the results. There are two project working groups: In the working group on ecology, farmers and nature managers together look at how nature management can be combined with grazing and mowing management. Among other things, the feed value of herbaceous grasslands and the most suitable cattle breeds will be studied. We evaluate how the joint approach can result in an optimal management agreement. The economics working group focuses on the profitability of extensive meat production and the creation of added value for meat from valley farming and herbaceous grasslands.


The project has shown that the use of extensive grassland on a conventional agricultural holding is possible to a certain extent, without a negative impact on economic results. The cost to farmers of managing such parcels is higher than previously estimated. Compared to conventional grassland, this represents an economic loss. The project partners argue for compensation for nature management by farmers. The arguments are 1) that there are currently very small margins in the sale of meat or milk from nature management and 2) nature management separately from agriculture is much more expensive for the government. In addition, setting up a label for natural meat with the aim of obtaining sufficient added value from the market is not easy. Finally, a good understanding and dialogue between farmers and nature managers is essential to achieve qualitative and sustainable cooperation.
The results and conclusions have been communicated through publications in professional journals and through the communication channels of the different partners, e.g. through the ILVO Newsletter. At the closing event, Farmers' Nature Day in Lokeren in cooperation with Natuurpunt, the general public was informed of these findings.

External partner(s)
Agrobeheercentrum ecokwadraat
Innovatiesteunpunt Boerenbond
Regionaal Landschap Schelde en Durme
Effective start/end date1/09/1731/08/19

ID: 5446233