Circular Agriculture in North-Netherlands: Daring scenarios and Interlinked Transformation (CAN-DO-IT)


Circular agriculture is a promising way of ensuring a sustainable food future. It is based on a set of principles: prioritising plant biomass for human consumption; preventing or reusing by-products in value chains; keeping animals to convert human inedible by-products and grass resources into valuable products; safeguarding natural resources, biodiversity, health and wellbeing of humans and animals; and contributing to regional socio-economic development. While these principles of circularity make scientific sense, research is needed to translate these principles into practical, viable farming systems and assess their implications for the various dimensions of sustainable agricultural systems. The aim of CAN-DO-IT, our transdisciplinary research project, is to co-create transformative pathways which connect future scenarios of circular agriculture with preferred and practical stakeholder actions and technological and socio-economic conditions, thereby enabling governance interventions. We will adopt a recently developed small wins approach that offers a new understanding of how emerging innovative initiatives at micro-level accumulate and contribute to system change. Achieving this aim is highly context specific, therefore we will establish a living lab in North-Netherlands and conduct six interlinked research steps: i) analyse biophysical and socio-economic aspects of the current agricultural system; ii) interactively develop future dreams (scenarios); iii) assess environmental and socio-economic consequences of scenarios; iv) identify and evaluate small wins; v) identify interventions for spreading, broadening and deepening small wins; and vi) co-create transformative pathways. Our project aims to demonstrate that applying the principles of circular agriculture in the Netherlands is feasible, effective and legitimate.


Project number


Main applicant

Prof. dr. ir. I.J.M. de Boer

Affiliated with

Wageningen University & Research, Departement Dierwetenschappen, Dierlijke Productiesystemen (APS)


01/04/2020 to 31/03/2024