Intensification and scaling-up accounted for the strong growth in both agricultural output and productivity. Nevertheless, the contribution of agriculture to Dutch GDP declined from 15 to 1.5 percent over the same period.
Increased productivity in livestock farming
To mention a few examples of growth in livestock production: the number of pigs grew by 6.7 times from 1.9 million head in 1950 to 12.4 million head in 2016. In 1956, there were 33.0 million laying hens in the Netherlands, laying 224 million kg of eggs. In 2012, there were almost 42.8 million laying hens laying 672 million kg (10.3 billion) eggs.
Similar developments are seen in dairy farming: in 1950, the production of an average dairy cow was 4 thousand litres of milk per year. In 2015 this was 8.2 thousand litres, more than double.
Scaling-up and intensification
Throughout the upgrade of production and productivity, the underlying processes have been innovation, expansion of scale and mechanisation. The small extensive mixed farms of 1950 were gradually replaced by the large, intensive and specialised farms of today. The number of agricultural holdings declined from 410 thousand in 1950 to 55 thousand in 2016. The area covered by an average holding was around 5.7 hectares in 1950, versus 32.4 hectares in 2016.
However, the coin has another side. Expansion was partly made possible by land reparcelling, the adaptation of infrastructures and water management. In the process, small-scale pluriform farming landscapes were replaced by large-scale uniform landscapes.
Furthermore, the intensification of land use by agriculture has led to increased levels of manure and of fertiliser and pesticide consumption. In several areas, regional specialisation has caused major, inherently agriculture-related problems. On the poorer, sandy soils in the provinces of Gelderland and Noord-Brabant, for example, the number of pig and poultry farms has risen sharply. Large numbers of animals were housed in increasingly dense environments and made ready for slaughter over a much shorter period of time. Eventually, this has led to increasing eutrophication of soil, air and ground and surface water.
In 2016 the total Dutch livestock population produced 78.1 billion kg of manure. Cows contributed over 82 percent, pigs 13 percent and poultry 2 percent. Dairy cows in particular accounted for a share of over 60 percent.
Martes, 31 de enero de 2017/CBS/ Holanda.