Wageningen Campus green management update

Published on
November 22, 2022

The development of buildings and infrastructure on Wageningen Campus also involves thinking about the green interpretation of the surroundings. In the early years, this was mainly inspired by the historical landscape: flowery hayfields, wooded banks and lanes. In recent years, experiments with various other planting types have taken place. Each type requires its own form of management to realise the intended functions and development.

Green vision

The Wageningen Campus Green Vision was published in 2019. The aim was to make greenery on campus attractive for people and animals. A Green Committee was set up to shape the vision in cooperation with WUR experts. Part of this is sustainable and ecological management of green spaces.

Mowing pond beds

The large ponds on Wageningen Campus are part of a regional water management system. In wet periods, water collects in the ponds and is filtered into the soil. Via the groundwater, this clean water ends up in Wageningen's canals, among other places. Organic material collects on the pond floor. If this accumulation becomes too thick, it can lead to the ponds becoming too muddy, which impairs their function as basins and filters.

We measure deposition every 3 years to determine what management is needed. Last year it was decided to mow the bottoms, one half in 2021, the other half this year. That will happen this week. Wieger Wamelink (ecologist, Wageningen Environmental Research) wrote the advice. He makes and supervises management plans of native plantings and ecosystems on Wageningen Campus.

Flowerbeds along new cycle path

Last winter, flowerbeds were planted near Aurora, Impulse's terrace and in the strip of seating and fitness equipment near the amphitheatre. A new planting and management concept was used for this. The flowerbeds are divided into compartments, each containing a mix of different species. The boxes are left alone during the winter and only cleaned and manually weeded in spring. After about two years, a natural balance comes into the planting. Around May, the vegetation closes, requiring little maintenance during the rest of the season. This creates a planting that has something to offer all year round in terms of structure and colour, as well as food and hiding places for all kinds of animals.

The planting was followed for a year to see how the mix would develop. Because the concept was completely new for the gardener, Donkergroen, but also because there were places where water remained, it turned out differently than expected. In recent weeks, the flowerbeds have therefore been redesigned on the basis of the lessons learned. This was supervised by the designer of (ornamental) planting on campus, Elike Wijnheijmer (FB-IFM, park manager).

Weed control with steam

You may have seen a 'cloud-shrouded' tractor driving around last week with a barrel of liquid on the back. This is a new system for tackling weeds in a hedge base. Instead of hoeing or burning (we haven't done chemical control for a long time), the weeds are killed with steam. Our contracted landscaper, Donkergroen, is always looking for effective, eco-friendly methods of maintaining greenery. This is one of them. It is still a prototype. The idea is also to purchase a zero-emission vehicle in the future.

Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed

Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed are growing on Wageningen Campus. These invasive exotics are probably a 'legacy' of the tree nursery that was located on the southern half of the business strip until 2010. Chris van Dijk, researcher Plant and Environment at Wageningen Plant Research, advises on possible approaches. For example, young plants of the giant hogweed are now systematically cut away just below the ground so that they cannot flower. Slowly but surely, populations are disappearing as a result.

Japanese knotweed is more persistent because it makes roots to great depths that can survive for a long time. A new plant can grow from every remnant. In 2019, Japanese knotweed was excavated at two sites (along Droevendaalsesteeg) and taken to a destruction facility. Root cloth and soil were then applied, in which flower meadow was sown. This pilot seems to keep the plant reasonably in check, as 'escaped shoots' were observed only once. Last year, along the Plantation, another method proposed by Dark Green was started: putting the root under electricity which 'cooks' it (Rootwave Pro). The method seems effective, but will need to be repeated for longer periods of time.