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Minister sees ‘brown gold’ in Dutch agriculture’s future

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HEETEN – Dutch Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg sees prospects in ‘brown gold,’ a substance of which the dense animal population of the Netherlands has an abundant surplus. Until recently strictly a huge environmental liability, Dutch researchers have been working hard to turn animal waste into an asset. Dutch farmers must keep extensive bookkeeping of the manure produced, manure applied on their own and other fields (within set guidelines), manure disposed through manure haulers and how they dispose of it. Spreading liquid manure also is restricted so farms also must have storage facilities in place. Another problem tied to the waste issue is its mineral content. At Biogreen, Verburg was on hand to launch a pilot project to refine manure in ‘brown gold’ that can be exported to manure-hungry parts of the world, replacing chemical fertilizer as a preferred commodity. If the project shows viability, Dutch farmers may well see relief of a persistent and costly animal waste challenge.