Computer Farmer

Due to a registration error, changed rules and a missed deadline, the cows now have different feed. In this column, Simone Uijttenwaal explains how BV Nederland is getting in the way of her food transition.
Published May 18, 2022
Photo of Simone Uijttewaal giving a presentation.

A year ago, I was still working full-time at a communications agency, behind a computer screen and with many deadlines.

A nice job but my mother's farm attracted me more and more. I wanted to be an active part of the transition of our agricultural system and after much deliberation I chose a future on the farm.

In addition to loving farming and working on my ideal farm, I was also hoping for a few additional, vain benefits. No more having to go to the gym, for example, because I'm physically busy all day. Getting a nice tan from working in the sun and no longer living from deadline to deadline, but in the rhythm of the seasons.

Idle hope, as it turned out. To all three of these things I must unfortunately return. In month two on the farm, I was already going through my back, came to the physio and was advised to exercise. Brown I am getting, but farmer's brown. That is, brown in my face, from my hands to my T-shirt and a crazy stretch of my leg: the bottom of my shorts to the top of my boot. And unfortunately, there are also more than enough deadlines in peasant life. Every single one of them has to do with laws and regulations.

Photo by Simone Uijttewaal in a field, in front of the Farmers Accelerator.
Simone Uijttenwaal during one of the Farmers Accelerator program days

Last Sunday (May 15) was an important date for all farmers in the Netherlands. The deadline for the combined statement* requires farmers to digitally register their crop plan to the meter with the government. An entry puzzle and long questionnaire in an online portal à la Mijn Belastingdienst - called 'Mijn Percelen'.


"As a result of that missed deadline, our options are more limited this year and so that other deadline forced us to create a new plan in two weeks."


Two weeks before this deadline, it turned out that one of our plots has recently been subject to different rules, so we had to adjust our cultivation plan last minute. Soil samples show that the plot in question consists of clay soil, but on the government soil map it is registered as sandy soil. Sandy soil is sensitive to nitrogen leaching (more sensitive than clay soil) and therefore special, stricter rules now apply to sandy soil regarding fertilization. We are actively engaged in the food transition and deal responsibly with our land, including the clay soils, and fortunately appear to comply with the (new) rules anyway. But unfortunately we cannot breathe a sigh of relief. Because the government wants to be able to monitor our land use, we should have already submitted the cultivation plan for our "sandy soil plot" to the supervisor three months ago. As a result of that missed deadline, our options are more limited this year and so that other deadline forced us to create a new plan in two weeks. That was at least as stressful as launching a website for a major corporation.

Meanwhile, the rhythm of the seasons indicated that the grass had to be harvested and the corn plots sown. So we had to make our Plan B between business, to make sure we could get the details to the National Entrepreneur's Office in time, otherwise you risk a fine.


"...It is difficult to keep abreast of changing regulations in addition to daily work. "


Just as with a deadline for a client, we managed to bring everything to a successful conclusion within the time frame, but it is difficult to keep abreast of changing regulations in addition to daily work. The energy that has gone into this puzzle recently I would have preferred to put into our future projects. Farmers I talk to teach me that I have to find a way to deal with the changing legislation and systems like My Plots, because that too is part of farming these days. It makes a difference that from behind my computer I now have a view of a grazing herd of cows. That makes up for a lot.


*Combined declaration: with this declaration you provide data to RVO for the Agricultural Census, manure legislation and emission reports. You can also apply for a number of subsidies from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

About Simone Uijttewaal

Simone (29) grew up on a dairy farm in Horssen, Gelderland, which has been in the family for five generations, but for a long time did not see herself taking over the business. Until about a year ago. In the Farmers Accelerator, she wants to develop her many plans into concrete steps.



In the Farmers Accelerator program, farmers search for feasible, logical and sustainable innovations on the farm. Not alone, but together with The New Farmer's Family. The New Farmer Family is the farmer with a group of stakeholders around him: the inventor, the architect, the civil servant, the marketer, the chef, the banker, the lawyer, the designer.


Image: Marleen Annema

Text: Simone Uijttewaal

Editor: Dieuwertje van Muyden