Cultivation adaptation and soil regeneration for sustainable agriculture on saline clay soils at the “Dubbele Dijk”

28 June 2021 - Published by Laila Dam
The “Dubbele Dijk” is an area in de province of Groningen in the Netherlands, located on the coastline of the Eems-Dollard estuary. It was created as part of the dyke reinforcement Eemshaven-Delfzijl, where instead of dyke reinforcement in a conventional way, a double dyke system was created. One of the areas in between the two dykes has been designed for experiments on aquaculture and saline farming (25 ha), and a second area (10 ha) in which sludge from the Eems river can settle.

There are a lot of activities and plans for the "Dubbele Dijk" in the coming years; however, in this article focus is on the research concerning cultivation adaptation and soil regeneration for sustainable agriculture on saline clay soils.

To create the inner sea dyke, 70 cm of topsoil was removed, which left a strongly degenerated saline soil. This yields a unique opportunity to study the potential for regeneration of these types of soils for future sustainable agricultural use.

Research conducted by plant physiologists Jan Henk Venema and Theo Elzinga as well as soil scientist Erik Meijles (University of Groningen) and microbial ecologist Stefanie Vink (GreenFinch Research) aims at investigating the potential of using different soil regeneration treatments to improve agriculture on saline clay soils.

Currently, they are conducting a one-year trial using 6 treatments of 3 legumes (soybean and 2 varieties of field bean) and 3 perennial mixtures (oat/clover amended with seaweed or sludge and salt/clay wildflowers). Furthermore, they will measure plant physiological responses to salt stress and various physical and biological aspects of the soil.

For next year, they are planning to start agricultural rotations on this year’s legume treatments and to maintain the perennial mixtures for a period of 5 years.

The research is supported by SalFar and HZPC, LG seeds, Agrifirm, Landbouwe and students from regional tertiary education centres.


For more information please contact:

Gert Noordhoff, Projectmanager Double Dyke: +31 6 15 06 81 03

Stefanie Vink, GreenFinch Research, +31 6 40 80 30 45

Jan Henk Venema, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. +31 6 31 39 88 88