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4 Case 4: Developing the new “Rondeel” chicken housing system

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J. Bouma et al.

were involved during the entire process and so was the farmers’ trade

union; (v) a large cooperative, showing commercial interest in the new

innovative design; (vi) animal-welfare and environmental NGOs were also

involved during the entire project; (vii) TransForum financed important

activities in the period 2007À2010 and provided continuous support by a

knowledge broker who was not a member of the scientific community but

had worked for an animal-protection NGO, creating a favorable position to

work from. The knowledge broker maintained and initiated interaction

among the various players and guarded overall progress.

4.4.3. Track record of the storyline (Fig. 5)

As discussed, the Ministry of Agriculture commissioned research to design

an innovative system in 2003 (box 1). In 2004, the project “The Keeping

of Hens” was started (box 2) and research until 2006 involved a multistakeholder approach with entrepreneurs (E) and right from the start interaction with NGOs (N). Two-way arrows are therefore shown in Fig. 5.

The design process evolved into a truly innovative open and accessible

design, including: (i) an animal-friendly environment with a relatively

low stocking density, a dustbath and a woodland rim for chickens to roam

into; (ii) a 50% reduction of ammonia emissions and 50% reduction of

energy consumption as compared with traditional systems; (iii) a visitor’s

section where the production process can be observed, allowing direct

Figure 5

Track record of case study 4: the Rondeel (see text).

The Role of Knowledge When Studying Innovation


contact with consumers; (iv) environmentally friendly packaging of the

eggs, and (v) a design that blends harmoniously into the landscape (van

Altvorst et al., 2011).

A Rondeel stable houses 30,000 chickens and 150,000 eggs will

be produced per week. In 2006 (box 3), a large manufacturer of poultry

systems decided to embrace the design and take part in its development.

But more was needed than the technical design. The ultimate success

required effective marketing, also internationally, and of an innovative

chain design from production to consumption where eggs were to be

sold directly to a major supermarket concern. To realize all of this, much

interaction and development occurred in the period 2007À2010 (box 4)

during the TransForum-funded phase of the project: “The quest for the

golden egg.” A local entrepreneur volunteered in 2008 to lead the first

of—it was hoped—many future Rondeel stables and he received support

from local government. In this period, the Rondeel concept received the

highest three-star quality award from the Animal Protection Fund and an

environmental label (“Milieukeur”) which was helpful in engaging the

supermarket concern and to convince the public that buying Rondeel

eggs (30% more expensive than the regular ones) was a means to express

awareness in terms of the environment and about animal care. Still,

funding of the first Rondeel building remained problematic. Government

and banks were unwilling to provide funds and funds were ultimately

provided by the manufacturer himself as a future investment (Box 5).

The first Rondeel stable was built and eggs are now for sale in a major

supermarket chain. After this, the government ultimately approved guarantee funding for the second and third Rondeel stable to be constructed

elsewhere. In 2011, the second stable was opened and three more are

under development.

4.4.4. Flow of knowledge

Figure 5 illustrates that the wicked problem being considered had no

simple straightforward answer and that relevant knowledge was scattered among many disciplines and experts. Creating an innovative and

sustainable egg production system requires multi- and interdisciplinary

K5 research (box 2) involving animal scientists, construction engineers, energy experts, ethics specialists and K1ÀK2 interaction with

various stakeholders, including animal activist and environmental

groups who are highly suspicious of what they perceive as yet another

industrial project. Certainly, the Rondeel concept as presented (box 3)

represents a true interdisciplinary invention. But Fig. 5 also illustrates

that an invention, as such, does not necessarily lead to value capture.

Involvement of TransForum (box 4) included four major workshops

where a wide range of participants discussed practical implementation

in terms of marketing, also internationally, contacts with the media,


J. Bouma et al.

creation of short, innovative producerÀconsumer chains, regulatory

requirements, and finances. Here, the knowledge broker, the project

director of TransForum, and the director of Rondeel played a crucial

role arranging contacts at appropriate times with different specialists,

entrepreneurs, and representatives of NGOs. The exchange of knowledge was dominantly of the K2 type and was technical, administrative,

and entrepreneurial by nature. Simply focusing on processes and social

intelligence would not have been adequate. The large group of participants did have a joint objective, but their frames of reference

differed widely, making facilitation by the knowledge broker essential.

Value capture was only achieved (box 5) because the manufacturer of

poultry systems decided to make a strategic investment (box 4). It is

highly unlikely that value capture would have been achieved without

the actions represented in box 4.

4.4.5. Lessons for knowledge management

 Rondeel is a fine example of successful interdisciplinary research,

and it also shows that an invention, as such, is not enough to achieve

connected value development. The research community could argue that

organizational, financial, and commercial aspects are not part of a scientific exercise. Still, without value capture, the invention of the Rondeel

concept would most likely have remained academic and would not have

represented a successful link between science and society as it presently

does. Thus, continued involvement with the value creation and capture

process is important for the scientific community.

 It is essential to assemble the right parties at the start of the value proposition process. Combination of various types of knowledge is essential

for solving complex, wicked problems. In this project, researchers were

important for contributing scientific knowledge, the manufacturer

of poultry systems for technical and financial know-how, the NGOs

for public support and the entrepreneurs for their understanding of

the commercial and technical feasibility of the project. Progress is only

maintained when the overall objective, which can be reached in different ways, remains in focus. This requires a clear strategy and an open

mind for different frames of reference, opinions, and societal processes,

taking all partners seriously.

 Financial requirements for not only project funding but also

implementation need to be satisfied before effective action can take

place. TransForum has performed a crucial function in this project.

Government agencies, notorious for short-time change and being

risk averse, are often not a reliable source for long-term financial

support that is needed.

The Role of Knowledge When Studying Innovation


5. Discussion and Conclusions

1. Four case studies from the TransForum portfolio demonstrate that

system innovation in agriculture can be achieved by managing “wicked”

problems associated with sustainable development, applying the method

of connected value development to develop new modes of 3P agricultural

production in three phases of value proposition, -creation, and -capture.

This transdisciplinary approach involves all KENGi partners (knowledge

workers, entrepreneurs, NGOs, and government), each with different

interests, goals, and value judgments. The value proposition phase serves

to define a common solution to the different goals and requires much

more time than is usually provided. Value creation involves integration of

different types of hard and soft data and information into a coherent,

operational design supported by a solid business plan and investment

strategy. The value capture phase represents successful completion and

can serve as an illustration of science contributing to societal developments, supporting claims being made in many strategic research reports.

Knowledge-driven inventions by research, when presented in isolation,

often do not contribute to societal developments because there is no

cocreation of system innovations that lead to new modes of agricultural

production. This may explain part of the knowledge paradox.

2. Persistent entrepreneurs and knowledge brokers played a crucial role

in connected value development in the four case studies. The latter are

most effective when they possess both “hard” knowledge and considerable social intelligence (so-called T-shaped skills) as they function

as intermediaries between the various KENGi partners. They can be

regarded as a new type of extension workers of the twenty-first century (Extension 2.0). But there are major differences with the classical

extension agents of the agricultural era who basically interpreted and

communicated research knowledge to farmers in a linear process.

Extension 2.0 requires initiation and facilitation of complicated interaction processes, as illustrated in the four case studies, involving all

KENGi partners in unpredictable ways. Also, interaction has a different

focus in the different phases of systems innovation. To support the

independent role of knowledge brokers, Extension 2.0 should preferably be independent with separate financing, just like the traditional

extension services in the agricultural era. Aside from knowledge

brokers acting in the overall KENGi context, each KENGi partner

itself needs members with T-shaped skills that can effectively represent

the partner in the overall discussion. They act as knowledge brokers

within their own group and not all members of the group are able or

willing to interact with third parties.


J. Bouma et al.

3. Focusing attention on the scientific community, they would be well

advised to actively participate in case studies on sustainable development, as presented in this chapter, with the objective to demonstrate

the importance of various forms of knowledge when cocreating

systems innovations. This has major consequences for research organization and planning as it implies:

 Active participation of all participants, including scientists, in the

entire connected value development process, which often takes years

requiring long-term commitment and funding. This contrasts

with current practices of short-term research projects with limited

funding often focusing on disciplinary knowledge creation only.

 Educating knowledge brokers, who may be seen as extension agents

of the twenty-first century and presenting them with good job

perspectives. As discussed above, this aspect has two dimensions

for the science community. First, knowledge brokers are needed

to facilitate connected value development among the KENGi partners.

Second, within the group of scientists also, some researchers with

T-shaped skills should be selected to interact with the other partners

on behalf of the group. These knowledge brokers deserve a solid

position next to their traditional colleagues in the scientific community being engaged with basic, strategic, and applied research as they

are all part of a CSP (Bouma et al., 2008).

 Expanding the way scientific research is judged. Publishing refereed

papers in international journals is still relevant for basic, strategic,

and even applied research, but broader criteria have to be applied to

judge research in a transdisciplinary context as exemplified in

this chapter. As stated, knowledge brokers perform an important

function in this context and they should be judged and rewarded

accordingly. Judging criteria have been proposed but have so far not

been implemented (Spaapen et al., 2007).

4. The four case studies show that innovation rarely starts with cuttingedge K5 inventions in the value proposition phase that result in innovation and value capture. Progress in the innovation process depends

on joint learning, obtaining business plans, and organizational

arrangements based on mainly tacit K2 knowledge of various stakeholders, with occasional injections of focused K3ÀK5 research to

solve particular problems where tacit knowledge is inadequate. This

is shown in the four track records of the case studies. Achieving

innovation requires, therefore, activation of the entire knowledge

chain from K1 to K5. The green care case showed that innovative

medical K5 research resulted from practical experiences earlier in the

project. Thus, basic research is linked to practical problems and

this potentially increases its applicability as compared with a purely

curiosity-driven approach.

The Role of Knowledge When Studying Innovation


5. There are no simple recipes to successfully manage wicked problems

associated with innovation and sustainable development. The track

records of the four case studies are quite different. However, the case

studies illustrate a successful approach following the connected value

development approach. Detailed case studies, as reported in this chapter,

may serve to point out potential problems and opportunities and

may be used in teaching and education to impart “T-shaped skills.”

Showing developments as a function of time as track records is important because aggregate characteristics of each project cannot adequately

reflect knowledge transfer and questions as to what happened when and

why. Along these lines, the case-study method is followed successfully in

business schools.


The commitment and hard work of all participants in the case studies is gratefully



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Crops Yield Increase Under

Water-Limited Conditions: Review

of Recent Physiological Advances

for Soybean Genetic Improvement

Walid Sadok,Ã and Thomas R. Sinclair†


1. Introduction

2. Crop Water Use and Yield: A Framework for Trait Identification

2.1. Transpiration coefficient k

2.2. Harvest index

2.3. Vapor pressure deficit

3. Traits Influencing Water Conservation

3.1. Limited TR and slow-wilting

3.2. Timing of stomatal closure in the soil drying cycle

3.3. Slow leaf area development

3.4. Other possible water conservation traits

4. Traits Influencing Water Access

4.1. Increased rooting depth

4.2. Increased rooting rate

4.3. Decreased root hydraulic conductance

4.4. Other rooting traits

5. Traits for Special Sensitivities: Nitrogen Fixation Tolerance to Drought

6. Concluding Remarks























Due to future requirements for more crop production, there will be greater

needs to increase yields for crops subjected to water deficits. In recent years,

substantial progress has been made with soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) in

understanding the water-deficit limitation on yield using model assessments,


Earth and Life Institute, Universite´ Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Crop Science Department, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Advances in Agronomy, Volume 113

ISSN 0065-2113, DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-386473-4.00007-5

© 2011 Elsevier Inc.

All rights reserved.



Walid Sadok and Thomas R. Sinclair

physiological investigations, and plant breeding. This knowledge has been

applied in developing higher yielding genotypes. This review examines physiological options and genetic advances made with soybean as possible guides for

studies with other crops. Three approaches exist for minimizing the negative

impact of water deficit on crop production: (1) conserve soil water, (2) access

more water, and (3) overcome special water-deficit sensitivities. Water conservation in soybean has been achieved by exploiting a genotype that has limited

hydraulic conductance in its leaves. A consequence of this trait is that transpiration rate is limited at times of high vapor pressure deficit resulting in soil water

conservation for use later in the season. Acquisition of more water is most

likely to be achieved by greater depth of rooting or greater root length density

deep in the soil. Although promising genetic variability has been identified,

breeding efforts for these rooting traits are still required. A special sensitivity in

soybean that results in a major limitation in yield is a decrease in symbiotic

nitrogen fixation rate with only modest soil drying. Germplasm has now been

released that results in increased yields due to a capacity for sustained nitrogen fixation with drying soil. This review highlights that soybean investigations

combining physiological investigations, simulations studies, and field-based

phenotyping of traits have resulted in the identification of genotypes with

increased yield potential in water-deficit environments.

Keywords: breeding strategy; nitrogen fixation; phenotyping; simulation;

soybean; transpiration; water deficit; yield

1. Introduction

To meet food demands of a growing human population, current soybean worldwide production (about 220 million tons) must increase by a

staggering 140% by 2050 according to FAO estimates (Bruinsma, 2009).

With decreasing availability of well-watered agricultural areas, attempts to

reach such future production levels will require the use of existing or new

cropping areas having limited water supply (Sinclair et al., 2010). Serraj et al.

(2009) reviewed for rice (Oryza sativa L.) the challenges of increasing the

land area and yields in view of water limitations. For soybean (Glycine max (L.)

Merr.), current intensive production systems in major producing areas in the

United States, South America, and China are already experiencing a decrease

in precipitation amounts, which is expected to reach 20% in some regions by

the end of the century as a consequence of climate change (IPCC, 2007).

While accurate projections of future precipitation patterns and their quantitative impact on crop yield is still lacking (Sinclair, 2010), it is critical to the

sustainability of crop production systems to have drought-tolerant genotypes

that can maintain economically viable yields under water-deficit conditions.

Crops Yield Increase Under Water-Limited Conditions


Since 2005, significant progress has been achieved with soybean in

(i) identifying the physiological and genetic basis of traits for water-limited

environments, and (ii) quantifying their impact on yields. These efforts

have resulted for the first time in the release of nitrogen fixation droughttolerant cultivars (Sinclair et al., 2007) and the use of new genetic sources

of “slow-wilting” in soybean in breeding programs (Charlson et al., 2009;

Hufstetler et al., 2007). In each case, progress has been the result of an

interdisciplinary approach involving field-based phenotyping and physiological and genetic dissections. A useful contributor to this progress was the

results of simulation studies based on a soybean crop model incorporating

the direct link between crop yield and available water for transpiration

(Sinclair, 1986; Sinclair et al., 2010; Tanner and Sinclair, 1983). Sinclair

et al. (2005) with sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.) and Serraj et al. (2009)

with rice also demonstrated the importance of model assessments in guiding experimental investigations.

In this review, an agroeconomic perspective is presented so that plant

traits resulting in increased crop survival, for example, are not considered.

Under extreme levels of drought threatening crop survival, water availability

will be so low that even with crop survival yield will be very low and the

grower will be economically devastated. Therefore, this review will address

plant traits that can be genetically altered to improve economic sustainability

of cropping systems in water-limited environments. The selection criteria

for these traits for water-deficit conditions include the existence of a quantitative assessment of the possible yield benefits from a trait, an established

physiological basis, and a genetic variability for the trait. The perspective of

this review is an examination of drought tolerance traits in soybean from

an agrophysiology standpoint rather than from a molecular physiology view.

The relevant drought-tolerant traits can be broadly classified into three

strategies that attempt to match key plant physiological functions to water

supply. These are (i) improved conservation of soil water, (ii) increased crop

access to water, and (iii) limited special sensitivities that negatively affect

yield under water-deficit conditions (e.g., nitrogen fixation tolerance to

drought). In the following sections, traits pertaining to each of these strategies are presented and discussed based on their potential benefits on yields

under water-limited conditions, their physiological basis, and breeding

considerations such as the extent of their genetic variability (Table 1).

2. Crop Water Use and Yield: A Framework

for Trait Identification

The early analyses of crop water use by deWit (1958), Fisher and

Turner (1978), and Tanner and Sinclair (1983) established the existence of

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