In the area managed by Hollandse Delta, agriculture is under great pressure and the social awareness of the agricultural sector is increasing steadily. In recent years, a stand-still has been observed in water quality, in terms of agrochemicals, and concentrations even exceed the standard. To improve the waterquality a multi-purpose Field Margin Regulation was drafted for the Hoeksche Waard island in 2005. The regulation prescribes a crop-free strip, 3.5 m wide, alongside wet drainage ditches. The strip must be sown with mixtures of grasses, flowers or herbs. No crop protection chemicals or fertilizer may be used on the strips. A total length of approximately 200 km of buffer strip has now been laid. Besides reducing emissions, the buffer strips also stimulate natural pest control methods and encourage local tourism. Finally, the strips should lead to an improvement in the farmers' image. The regulation has proved to be successful. The buffer strips boosted both local tourism and the image of the agricultural sector. Above all, the strips provided a natural shield for emission to surface water, which will lead to an improvement of the water quality and raise the farmers' awareness of water quality and the environment.

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