The choice of focus region in relation to the selected innovation was the province of Antwerp (BE21 – Nuts 2). This region was chosen because of the following reasons:
- This is where the innovation originated;
- This is the region where the most innovations (digesters) were adopted;
- This is Flanders’ most innovative region for dairy.
However, because this region wasn’t big enough to get the complete picture of the case study, we had to include some farmers from other provinces in Flanders.
Approximately 92,500 hectares (about 1/3) of the area of the province of Antwerp is used for agriculture. The province contains 3,627 professional agricultural and horticultural companies. The cultivation of forage crops accounts for 79% of the agricultural area in the province. Of these, maize and grass are the most grown crops. In 2014, only 1% of the forage crops consisted of other forage crops than maize and grass, such as fodder beet and clover.
More than half of the number of farms in the province is owned by cattle farmers, which explains the large area of forage crops. In the province of Antwerp, dairy (goat) farms, beef calve farms, and poultry farms are highly specialized. Antwerp is at the forefront of the other Flemish provinces in the number of broiler chickens and veal calves.
The study focuses on a technological innovation in environmental technologies. It’s a system called Small-scale digester or pocket digestion, a technology where the anaerobic digestion process is applied to proprietary biomass flows (manure) for the on-site production of renewable energy. After combustion of the biogas in a combined heat and power (CHP) installation, this energy is made available in the form of electricity and heat and is used to a maximum on-site.
The popularity of pocket digestion has increased greatly in the last few years in the Flemish region of Belgium and a number of neighbouring countries. In Flanders there are about 120 sold pocket installations to this date.
The aim of this survey is to better understand the role played by advisory organizations in the development and assessment of these technologies for and with farmers, and in farmers’ decisions to adopt them or not.
Full report is available here.
Innovation Support Centre
Innovation Support Center for Agricultural and Rural Development – INNOVATIESTEUNPUNT, is situated in Flanders, the Dutch speaking northern part of Belgium. Our mission is to inform and inspire farmers about new challenges and opportunities and to support them with the development and implementation of concrete projects.