2004
Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2468-2187
  • E-ISSN: 2468-2195

Abstract

Historical surface irrigation of pastures in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant: visible traces of a failed experiment

In the second half of the 19th century, some major changes occurred in the water management of the eastern and southern provinces of the Netherlands. Unlike the low-lying western parts of the Netherlands which were characterised by polders and had a long history of formal water boards, the higher eastern and southern parts of the Netherlands were characterized by brook systems and sandy soils, and had no centralised water boards until 1850. From the 1850s onward, water boards were introduced in these higher regions as well, and agronomical scientists and organisations like the Nederlandse Heidemaatschappij endeavoured for the modernisation of agricultural water management. One of their priorities was the introduction of modern forms of surface irrigation of pastures, in order to increase crop yields. In various places modern irrigation systems were constructed. From the 1900s onward, these systems were abandoned due to the introduction of new chemical fertilizers, among others. This article describes the construction and abandonment of one of these modern irrigation systems that was located in Liempde, in the province of Noord-Brabant. The local farmers were not interested in the new technique, and within a few years the system was transformed in a poplar plantation. Nowadays, the area is part of a nature reserve. Nonetheless, the global layout of the irrigation system is still visible.

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