Fighting drought together with farmers, landowners and scientists

Can a scientist, a farmer and a nature organisation ensure that nature can better withstand periods of extreme drought or massive flooding? Can a ’regular civilian’ help to counteract drought and improve biodiversity in our country in the near future by sowing certain species of grass and herbs? If it were up to Dr. Edwin Pos , yes. 

  • Pos is an Assistant Professor in the task force Ecology and Biodiversity, and the Academic Director of the Utrecht Botanic Gardens of Utrecht University.

  • Together with fellow researchers of Utrecht University, he joined forces with Landschap Erfgoed Utrecht. On the land of a farmer in Groenekan, he researches which combinations of grass and herbs are most capable of retaining water in the soil.

    In this video, he explains more about the research:

    Concrete guidelines to farmers and landowners

    The Netherlands are becoming dryer and wetter at the same time, and are also dealing with extremes more and more. Landowners and farmers are often not or rarely involved in scientific research into solutions, which results in outcomes often being (too) far removed from practice.

    However, the research project of Utrecht University and Landschap Erfgoed Utrecht has practice as its principle. The goal is to provide farmers and other landowners with concrete guidelines so they can make the right choices between grass production for cows and biodiversity, Pos states.

    The goal is to provide concrete guidelines so farmers and landowners can make the right choices between grass production and biodiversity.

    Dr. Edwin Pos

    Research results realtime accessible

    Pos: All the sown test fields have sensors that measure day and night conditions such as temperature, and air and soil humidity. The data gained from this will be available to read in real time on the project website This website is meant for everyone: landowners, farmers but also especially all those people who want to help to reduce soil drought and improve biodiversity in the future by sowing new grass and herb species.

    The research results are directly accessible to everyone. Besides that, the research project also provides educational opportunities, as students receive the possibility to get to work in actual practice in the region.

    About this research

    The running time of the drought research is three years, but can be extended. The academic leadership/supervision is held by Dr. Edwin Pos of Utrecht University, who also supervises students who can graduate in this. The research by Edwin Pos and colleagues is a part of a broader collaboration between Utrecht University and Landschap Erfgoed Utrecht. In various research projects, the partners examine issues, including climate, nature and land issues, with the goal to contribute to a healthier society.

    Staff members and volunteers of Landschap Erfgoed Utrecht have established the test fields, sown them and (in part) built roofs over them. They also do the maintenance and mowing of the test fields. The relevance of this research was already shown in the starting phase: volunteers of Landschap Erfgoed Utrecht spent months being ready to start sowing 48 little test fields on the farmer’s land, but extreme drought and wetness resulted in the actual sowing of the seed combinations not taking place until October.