Regional Transitions towards Circular Agriculture

The applied research group in Regional Transitions towards Circular Agriculture is focused on achieving circular agriculture at both the farm and regional level. The agriculture sector is facing some serious challenges: reducing greenhouse gases and nitrogen compounds, restoring biodiversity (including soil biodiversity), and improving water quality and availability. Successfully addressing these challenges will depend on issues such as economic viability, food security, public health, landscape quality and social values. The response calls for new business and revenue models, organisational structures and regulations.

Farmers, suppliers, consultants, researchers and students are working on and experimenting with different types of circular agriculture. Together, they’re trying to design production systems that are both economically and ecologically sound, and a food system that produces valuable and valued food (Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, 2019). Keeping nitrogen (N) and phosphate (P) losses within the agricultural cycle will reduce emissions. In partnership with researchers, they are working to achieve better energy efficiency, for example by connecting arable farming, livestock farming and horticulture, energy-efficient processes, contributions to energy production, energy cycles and capturing carbon in soils, and biomass/trees.

Through Living Labs, projects are being set up in which students, researchers, agricultural enterprises and other stakeholders work together in regionally focused ways to design circular agricultural systems. The aim is to learn and innovate together and work towards an economically, ecologically and socially responsible food system (production, processing, trade and consumption). The applied research group does this by linking with the experimental spaces designated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) in the Achterhoek, Twente and northern Netherlands regions.

The applied research group is mainly focused on the Netherlands, but also works with the private sector to share Dutch expertise with the wider world. It does this through its participation in the European University Alliance for Innovations in Regional Sustainability, with partners from Greece, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Finland. We’re also actively involved with a Living Lab in Maharashtra, India.


    European countries are all interconnected and need to keep finding more effective ways of sharing knowledge. The further development of higher education therefore depends on the development of collaboration at every level. INVEST4EXCELLENCE is creating a backdrop for the development and implementation of research and innovation ideas for regional sustainable development, the exchange of working practices and the sharing of common research infrastructure and resources.
  • Towards resilient communities: learning how to take action, guided by the SDGs
    Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences aims to remain the most sustainable university in the Netherlands, but it’s not yet clear how best to put ‘sustainability’ into practice. This research focuses on how to address this issue, using the SDGs as a guide and dialogue tool.
  • Next Generation Growing: Let’s go!
  • Smaakacademie (Taste Academy) Achterhoek
  • Nature-inclusive agriculture
  • Economic viability
  • Water storage


Everything published by the applied research group on Regional Transitions towards Circular Agriculture can be found on Greeni, the online library for the green universities of applied sciences.

About the professor

Rik Eweg studied Spatial Planning at Wageningen University. His PhD research was on the application of geographical information systems in foresight studies. He then worked at Wageningen as a project leader at the Geo-Information Centre and as a postdoctoral researcher at the C.T. de Wit Graduate School for Production Ecology. From 1998 to 2006 he was an alderman for the municipality of Wageningen where his portfolio included Spatial Planning, Nature & Landscape, Environment, and the Knowledge Economy. He was also a board member for the Vallei and Eem Water Board and for Eskan, a regional economic development entity for the Arnhem-Nijmegen area. From 2006 he worked as a project director at the TransForum Agro & Groen innovation programme. From 2012 to 2020, he was a professor of Sustainable Agribusiness in Metropolitan Areas and a lead professor for various research groups at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences.

Knowledge network

The core members of the knowledge network are:

  • Ben Rankenberg, senior researcher in Livestock Farming, whose focus at the applied research group is mainly on the network in the Achterhoek region.
  • Gelein Biewenga, lecturer-researcher in Livestock Farming
  • Sigrid Dassen, researcher in sustainable arable farming
  • Annelies Heijmans, lecturer-researcher in International Development Management
  • Tamara Hofs-Besselink, project manager
  • Daniel Magwegwe, lecturer-researcher in International Agribusiness & Trade
  • Sebastiaan Masselink, researcher in new, sustainable business models

Want to know more?

If you have any questions about the applied research group, please email [email protected]