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Project Brabants Bodem – Blog 1: Introduction

Voor het project Brabants Bodem ontwikkelen we een monitoringssysteem dat inzicht geeft in de biodiversiteit op melkveebedrijven zodat deelnemende boeren handvaten krijgen om hun bedrijven te verduurzamen. Vier studenten van de HAS Hogeschool in Den Bosch doen veldonderzoek op de bedrijven van 30 melkveehouders in Brabant. Hier is hun eerste verslag.

The research team

First of all, we would like to introduce ourselves. We are Bo van der Linde, Cécile Jansen, Lisa van der Biggelaar and Liselotte Besseling. We are fourth-year students at the HAS University of Applied Sciences and where we study Applied Biology. We are now specializing in Applied Ecology.

An exciting new research project

For our graduation thesis, we will be researching whether there is a relation between the Brabant Biodiversity Monitoring Dairy Farm (BBM) and the biodiversity, soil and water quality. This is a very exciting but also very important project to eventually increase biodiversity in the agricultural area. More than 200 dairy farms are participating in the BBM project. All of them have received certain scores based on water quality, soil quality, climate and biodiversity of their business. These scores were evaluated according to 13 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which were created to easily rate a farm. Now we aim to investigate whether a high KPI score also leads to high biodiversity. To do so, we will carry out field measurements at the sites of 30 companies (dairy farms). Over the last weeks, we have been busy getting these participants on board and of course preparing the fieldwork.   

We are going to monitor butterflies, examine the water quality and we are testing the soil. For the soil and water quality, we will use the citizen-science-based methods of Earthwatch Europe; these are tests that anyone can do! For the soil tests, we are going to look at the amount of earthworms; the more the better!  

The preparation process

In preparation for the fieldwork, we held several meetings already and we also went out into the field a few times. We joined students from the University of Utrecht on a fieldwork day. They are conducting a similar project with similar methods, and it was very educational for us to help them. In addition, last week we went on a field trip together with ecologist Dennis Maas! This was a very exciting and interesting day - we participated in his bird breeding monitoring and walked along a bumblebee route. This bumblebee route is similar to the butterfly survey that we will conduct as part of our research project.   

Next week, we will start our own fieldwork, beginning with the soil and water tests. We are very excited and we will keep you guys posted!