Organic farm 'Natuurboerderij Bolhuis'

Natuurboerderij Bolhuis is an organic livestock farm that works closely with two actors in nature management, the NGO Natuurpunt and the Agency for Nature and Forests of the Flemish Government
Développer le réseau bleu-vert, Production et consommation net-positive pour la biodiversité

City : Kempen

Region : Flanders

Project by : Bolhuis

Joined on : Oct 2022


Natuurboerderij Bolhuis is an organic livestock farm that works closely with two actors in nature management, the NGO Natuurpunt and the Agency for Nature and Forests of the Flemish Government, in managing 150 hectares of valley areas, natural grasslands, heathland and forest.

Bolhuis keeps rare old local breeds: Kempen red brown cattle and typical goats from the Kempen area and Ardennes Voskop sheep, also called Ardennes red sheep. These animals graze in the nature reserves. Hay from the nature reserves serves as winter feed. The farm closes all cycles.

All feed is sourced in-house, no pesticides or fertilizers or other external inputs are used. The farm works in the same way as a centuries-old moorland farm of the Kempen area would, with 'outfields' (the nature reserves where the animals graze) that are 'degraded' through targeted grazing, while healthy and concentrate feed for the livestock can be grown on the enriched 'infields' (the farm's own farmland with protein crops).

Who is involved?

​Natuurpunt vzw (non-profit organisation) (management teams of Dassenaarde, Catselt, Demerbroeken and Zammels Broek)
Agency for Nature and Forests of the Flemish Government (Flemish nature reserves 'Webbekoms Broek' and 'Vallei van de Drie Beken')

Solutions fondées sur la nature, Produits agricoles et animaux

Bolhuis has a positive impact on biodiversity through skilful management of nature reserves that leads to the achievement of nature objectives such as: moist and dry Nardus grasslands, heathlands, marsh grasslands, Cynosurion grasslands, Arrhenatherion elatioris hay-meadows, fescue grasslands, ... with marsh ragwort, lousewort and marsh lousewort, marsh clubmoss, devil's-bit scabious, western marsh orchid, ... and a habitat for teals, great white egrets, stonechats, Geoffroy's bats, black storks, red-backed shrikes, field crickets, small heath butterflies, water-meadow grasshoppers, ...

Bolhuis creates a positive impact on climate mitigation through maintaining more than one hundred hectares of permanent grassland. Additional carbon is added to the soil through own farm compost from farmyard manure and nature management residues, cycles are closed and no fertilizer or concentrate feed is used, so there are none of the additional climate effects normally associated with this.

Bolhuis closes nitrogen cycles and provides an annual drawdown of nitrogen from the environment, allowing for adequate impoverishment of the soil in the nature reserves so that nature objectives can be achieved there.

Bolhuis does not use pesticides and uses medication very sparingly, and as a result there is no chemical contamination of the environment.

Bolhuis relies on natural water resources; there is no drainage or irrigation. Water is given a chance to infiltrate. The livestock farm requires little water beyond what is naturally present in the area.

How are the criteria met?

  • Sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity and its components: Bolhuis manages nature reserves where high-quality nature is being realised. Nature-inclusive practices are also used on the farm's other terrains so that biodiversity is at least preserved or even improved. Only herb-rich grass-clovers are grown on these terrains without the use of pesticides or fertilizers.
  • Reducing detrimental impacts on biodiversity of farming and agricultural practices: the company applies closed substance cycles on its own land, no pesticides, fertilizers, GMOs, etc. are used. Worming agents and veterinary medications are used sparingly. No negative land use change occurs: terrains with natural values are preserved and, moreover, additional terrains with natural values are being developed.
  • Integration of biodiversity concerns in farming and agricultural practices: through cooperation with the two actors in nature management, grazing and mowing in the nature reserves is done primarily in function of the nature objectives. On the farm's other terrains, biodiversity considerations are taken into account by including flowering herbs in the grass-clover grasslands, planting hedgerows and wood edges, no use of pollutants to nature, fertilization in balance with the environment, ...
  • Promotion of local seasonal production and short supply chains: Bolhuis sells the meat from the cattle and sheep that graze in the natural reserves on the farm itself or through 'Buurderij' in Diest. The company also sells organic vegetable packages featuring seasonal vegetables from local organic farmers.
  • Enhanced availability of local seasonal products on the Belgian market

Thanks to Bolhuis, there is an additional place where consumers can go for nature-, environment- and climate-friendly meat and seasonal vegetables.

Good to know :
Het Bolhuis manages 150 hectares of nature reserves.
Het Bolhuis removes more than 300 kg of nitrogen from the environment every year.


Advantage 1 :
Nature managers have a reliable partner to inexpensively achieve nature objectives in their nature reserves

Advantage 2 :
There is no negative environmental impact due to land-based livestock farming, closed cycles, the net removal of nitrogen, no use of fertilizers or pesticides, economical use of water, ...

Advantage 3 :
Herb-rich grass-clover grasslands have an economic added value (cheap source of protein for livestock) but also provide a positive biodiversity contribution: soil biodiversity, attractive to insects, small birds and mammals as well as predators such as owls, storks, buzzards, honey-buzzards, ...

Advantage 4 :
Visitors can come and experience nature and farm life at Bolhuis through the farm's tourism services

Advantage 5 :
Through contributions to research and education, dozens of researchers and hundreds of students come into contact with nature-inclusive, agroecological, circular agriculture.

Other projects linked to the objective "Local and neutral for biodiversity crops & animal products"