Accountable Material Balance


The Dutch agro food sector strives to become a complete circular system by 2030, thus providing farmers an usp  for their products and a license to produce from society.

The cornerstone of circular  farming is the balance between input of nutrients from renewable sources  or recycling on the one hand and the output of nutrients in  edible products, non edible products and  manure on the other hand resulting in agricultural production without any emissions into the environment.

Recently- june  2020- the Dutch government was recommended by an advisory committee on  the policies to reduce nitrogen emissions into the atmosphere- the so called Commissie Remkes, named after its chairman- to introduce as fast as possible the Accountable Material Balance (AMB) for arable, dairy, and meat farming operations, irrespective of the scale and nature of these operations, in order to reduce nitrogen emissions effectively through penalizing surpluses and rewarding equilibrium on the AMB. This recommendation received broad support from outside and inside the farming community.

This website reports on a pilot study on different aspects of an AMB- Nitrogen  for dairy farming

The Foundation for Certification of the AMB now cooperates with  four students of Leiden University in a  pilot study from january 2021 till mid april 2012 on the components, content, structure and implementation of The Accountable Material  Balance for dairy farming in The  Netherlands with focus on Nitrogen. Key elements of the AMB are advanced bookkeeping and measurement of emissions.

Purpose of the pilot study

The study aims to investigate by desk and field research the  technical, psychological, legal and agro political aspects  of The Accountable Material  Balance for dairy farming in The  Netherlands with focus on Nitrogen.
Desk research will include investigation of existing sytems  for bookkeeping of material balances such as the “Kringloopwijzer” and the former MINAS concept.

Field research wil take place on dairy farms  as far as technical aspects  are concerned, ie measurement of emissions of nitrate and ammonia . Field research will  include structured interviews  with dairy farmers and experts on this matter in and outside the Netherlands.

Members of the study group on AMB-Nitrogen Dairy 2021

Eva Berger   Legal aspects
Pauline Dreissig Psychological aspects
Hannah Frederiks Political aspects
Oscar van Putten  Technological aspects
Herre Bartlema  NCOK  Consultant

Below the working party members present themselves :

1 Eva Berger
I am a student of Crisis & Security Management (specializing in terrorism and extremism) at Leiden University and I have a background in International Relations. I am currently finishing up my final semester next to participating in the project, where I will be looking at the political and governmental side of nitrogen reduction. My motivation for the project stems from a great interest in environmental issues and the opportunity to gain practical experience in the field. I also see it as a chance to broaden my horizon when it comes to security issues, as the changing climate and the protection of the environment are increasingly important issues to be addressed.

2 Pauline Dreissig
I am currently doing my master’s in Clinical Psychology at Leiden University. We are doing this project as part of the honours course “Circular Economy: From Challenge to Opportunity”. Since I come from a rural area in Germany, I was well aware of the conflicts of interest regarding the nitrate crisis. Although I was not familiar with the technical aspects of this issue at first, it interests me to see how my degree in psychology can aid in resolving or mitigating this conflict.

3 Hannah Frederiks
I am currently completing my MSc in International and European Governance at Leiden University. My study examines the relationship between supranational institutions, national, public and private sectors, all aiming to subsist in an expanding worldwide policymaking environment. We learn that there are no tailored solutions to the challenges we face; instead, we hark back to the successes’ and failures told by history. By that token, I echo Sir Baden-Powell’s plea: that we leave this world a little better than how we found it. 

Partaking in the  pilot study on different aspects of an AMB- Nitrogen  for dairy farming  acknowledges the urgency of reducing nitrogen emissions. Against the backdrop of the current climate crisis, an encompassing policy that thwarts the consequences of nitrogen emissions is essential. The European Union is one body that can do this. In this pilot study, I aim to investigate the efficacy of its current efforts and its future developments/plan.

4 Oscar van Putten
I study Chemistry at Leiden University and am working with the Accountable Material Balance as part of a course on Circular Economy. I am focusing on the technological aspects of the material balances, looking at ways to reduce fertilizer use and thus reduce nitrogen emissions while maintaining good yields and profits, as well as accurate methods of measuring nitrogen in- and outputs of a system.