Water retention proof of practice

Quantifying the improvement in soil's water retention capacity resulting from applying regenerative farming practices.

Water retention proof of practice

The soil's water holding (or retention) capacity is the amount of water that a given soil can hold for crop use. Why is it so important? When there is a deficit in the amount of water in the soil, the soil needs to be replenished by precipitation or irrigation. The key is for farmers to understand the nuances of soil water holding capacity and how to manage it so that the land does not require so much irrigation or suffer from a drought. The higher the water holding capacity, the more resilient the crop is because the soil is able to resist extreme weather events.

For this project we are partnering with the Klompe Farm, a third-generation Dutch family farm located just south of Rotterdam. The farmland surface is approximately 300 hectares, among which 75 hectares are managed regeneratively, with a crop rotation plan representative of the widely used crops in North Western Europe (wheat, potatoes, onions and leguminous plants). For the purpose of the proof of practice 35 hectares are farmed conventionally to serve as a point of reference. For all plots, the same data will be collected, using exactly the same collection method. The University of Wageningen, an expert in soil data collection and analysis, will be responsible for this part of the project.

Project summary

Type: Proof of practice
Start date: September 2020
Projected end date: TBD
Budget: EU 1,895,620
Funded by: EU POP 3 (EU 697,500), collaborating partners (EU 845,000)
Co-financing need: EU 353,120

The Reasons

The reasons

The reasons for focusing on water retention among all the ecosystem services provided by soils are the following:

  • As extreme weather patterns (very long and wet winters, very dry and hot summers) increase, water retention is the variable that provides the most improvement to the resilience of soil. By improving soil quality and restoring soil's water retention capacity, farmers will quickly experience the benefits on crop resilience.
  • The improvement of water retention capacity is relatively easy to measure. Also, it is the variable that shows quickest and most visible improvement.
  • Water retention capacity is the ecosystem service that has the greatest value worldwide, meaning it is not dependent on geographical characteristics. 



The Klompe Farm

Klompe Farm is a third-generation Dutch family farm located just south of Rotterdam, on the island the Hoeksche Waard (province Zuid-Holland). For more than 7 years, the Klompe family has been experimenting regenerative agriculture ("regen ag") practices on more than 75 hectares of the farm.


The University of Wageningen

The University of Wageningen is an expert in collecting data and validating soil quality. Also, the university is world widely known for its expertise in modeling soil quality improvement.


The Waterboard Hollandse Delta

The Waterboard Hollandse Delta is responsible for water management in the area of the project.

Partner 5

The EU

The European agricultural fund for rural development (EAFRD) is the funding instrument of the CAP that supports rural development strategies and projects. It also forms part of the European structural investment funds (ESIF).

Partner 6

Province of Zuid Holland

The production of sufficient food of reliable quality is one of the province of Zuid-Holland's top priorities. Zuid-Holland's agriculture and horticulture sectors play a significant role in ensuring a steady food supply and in meeting societal challenges such as food safety, food security, sustainable energy and the bio-economy.


The WWF is an international NGO dedicated to wilderness preservation and the reduction of human impact on the environment.

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