Sustainable intensification in the production of grass and forage crops in the Low Countries of north-west Europe

D. Reheul*, M. Cougnon, M. Kayser, J. Pannecoucque, J. Swanckaert, B. De Cauwer, A. van den Pol-van Dasselaar, A. De Vliegher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Production of grass and fodder crops in areas under intensive production systems in the Low Countries of north-west Europe faces a number of threats related to increased regulations, scarcity of land and restricted freedom of use of the land, and from climate change. Grassland-based farmers are pushed to do more with less, i.e., to improve eco-efficiency, and this requires "more knowledge per ha." This article argues that progress in variety breeding, the application of crop rotation instead of monocultures, a proper use of catch crops, ley-arable farming and overall good management offer realistic opportunities to cope with current threats. A large capacity for mechanization also allows improvement of net yields per ha. This article highlights that progress in plant breeding has compensated for yield declines caused by nutrient-input restrictions in forage maize (Zea mays L.). Both forage maize and grass-clover can take advantages of ley-arable farming, and crop rotation provides an insurance against the effects of low-yielding years and a buffer for reduced nutrient inputs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-381
JournalGrass and Forage Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Cropping systems
  • Good agricultural practices
  • Grassland farming
  • Ley-arable farming
  • Mechanization
  • Progress by plant breeding
  • Yield gap


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