Management strategies on Dutch dairy farms to meet environmental regulations; a multi-case study

C.J.M. Ondersteijn, S.B. Harsh, G.W.J. Giesen, A.C.G. Beldman, R.B.M. Huirne

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9 Citations (Scopus)


In 1998, the Dutch government introduced the Mineral Accounting System (MINAS) to prevent and reduce pollution of groundwater resources by agricultural nutrients. If farmers do not comply with this system they will be taxed, which could constitute a threat to the financial viability of their farms. This paper presents the results of a multi-case study approach to explore the ways in which dairy farms cope strategically, tactically and operationally with the introduction of MINAS. Using three-year panel data from 72 farms and the results of an interactive workshop, propositions regarding nutrient management decisions were formulated and tested. In general, the most environmentally and cost-effective order of nutrient management optimization proved to be: (1) the optimization of production through more accurate management (operational level), (2) the reduction of inputs (tactical level), and (3) a re-evaluation of farm intensity (strategic level). Even though MINAS constitutes a significant change in the external environment of farms it does not cause farmers to alter their strategy. The large variation found in the ways farmers choose to cope with nutrient management problems on their farm appeared to be related to factors like preferences and competencies. These factors affect the choices farmers make to deal with environmental problems
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-65
JournalNetherlands Journal of Agricultural Science
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • farm management
  • dairy farms
  • regulations
  • environmental impact
  • nutrients
  • netherlands
  • nutrient accounting system


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