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Open AccessArticle

Amazing Grazing: A Public and Private Partnership to Stimulate Grazing Practices in Intensive Dairy Systems

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Agrosystems Research, Wageningen Plant Research, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Animal Nutrition, Wageningen Livestock Research, 6708 WD Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Agriculture, Louis Bolk Institute, 3981 AJ Bunnik, The Netherlands
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Livestock and Environment, Wageningen Livestock Research, 6708 WD Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Animal Health & Welfare, Wageningen Livestock Research, 6708 WD Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Animal Production Systems, Wageningen University, 6708 WD Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Department Grassland and Grazing, Aeres University of Applied Sciences, 8251 JZ Dronten, The Netherlands
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5868; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205868
Received: 28 August 2019 / Revised: 12 October 2019 / Accepted: 17 October 2019 / Published: 22 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Grazing Systems)
In many intensive dairy regions in northwest Europe, a decline in grazing is observed. In the Netherlands, the proportion of dairy cows with access to pasture is declining, as well as the time spent grazing per cow. The decline in grazing is seen as an unwanted trend by many stakeholders and is, thus, under debate amongst dairy farmers, the dairy chain, and society. Therefore, a public–private partnership was initiated to encourage grazing by providing farmers with usable means of improving their grazing systems. The partnership involved stakeholders from the dairy farming community, dairy and feed industry, agrotechnical industries, advisory services, and research. The objective of this partnership was to develop and stimulate technological innovations and management measures that increase fresh grass intake at pasture. The innovation network combined an integrated research approach with farmer working groups and broader stakeholder interactive meetings. The project started with a comprehensive grass intake framework, which was the foundation for exploration of innovations. The framework consisted of six interlinked components: soil, grass growth, grass supply, grass intake, feed supplementation, and cow behavior. In a continuous interactive cycle, strategic choices were made to focus on potentially effective innovations. The use of a public–private partnership to develop usable innovations that encourage grazing practices proven to be a good approach to develop a shared vision among stakeholders. It provided a basis to work together toward innovative practices and to disseminate the outcomes to the foreseen users. The approach succeeded in design concepts for two specific innovations, i.e., weekly grass growth predictions and daily fresh grass intake tracking. We demonstrated that meaningful grazing and fresh grass intake are possible in intensive dairy systems with high stocking rates and high levels of supplementary feeding. View Full-Text
Keywords: dairy sector; grassland; interdisciplinary research; stakeholders; agricultural innovation system dairy sector; grassland; interdisciplinary research; stakeholders; agricultural innovation system
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Schils, R.; Philipsen, B.; Hoekstra, N.; Holshof, G.; Zom, R.; Hoving, I.; van Reenen, K.; Stienezen, M.; Klootwijk, C.; van der Werf, J.; Sebek, L.; van Eekeren, N.; van Dixhoorn, I.; van den Pol-van Dasselaar, A. Amazing Grazing: A Public and Private Partnership to Stimulate Grazing Practices in Intensive Dairy Systems. Sustainability 2019, 11, 5868.

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