The Netherlands’ nitrogen policy puts the production of french fry potatoes at risk, according to Andries Middag, director of the Association for the Potato Processing Industry (Vavi). Soon, the Netherlands will have to get potatoes for fries from abroad, he told AD.
According to a report by NL Times, the government is implementing limits on the cultivation of eating potatoes on sandy and loess soil to reduce nitrogen leaching into groundwater. Minister Piet Adema (Agriculture) set a deadline of October 1 this year, when all potatoes have to be removed from the soil. From that date, the farmers must plant a “catch crop” that prevents nitrogen from leaching into the groundwater.
Every arable farmer who does not plant a catch crop before October 1 will be penalized in the form of reduced nitrogen permits for next year’s cultivation. That means less nutrients for crops, less yield, and less income.
“This could be the death of the cultivation of french fries potatoes on sandy soil,” Middag told AD. Potato grower Pieter Evenhuis from Giethoorn can’t understand why the government put a hard deadline on this measure. “This form of calendar agriculture does not fit in with that,” he told the newspaper. Farmers can’t decide based on the calendar when to plant or harvest – that depends on the weather.