The Pig Tractor

Art and agriculture: the pig tractor has pig farming travelling through the landscape.

Agriculture, animal husbandry, education, entrepreneurship, and art come together in the Pig Tractor Project: a concept of artist and farmer Sjef Meijman. In a mobile sty, four pigs can stay in places where they are needed to till the soil, using their strong snouts to do so. The Pig Tractor is a conversation starter where our food production is concerned. From September till November, the Pig Tractor moves through the area from its starting point at petting zoo ‘Kinderboerderij Hagerhof’.

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In 2018, Museum van Bommel van Dam and the Circular Art Lab Limburg came together to cross the bridge between art and sustainability issues. On the question about how we can make agriculture and nature more compatible, Sjef Meijman responded with his idea for a Pig Tractor. Project partners LLTB, HAS, Stichting het Limburgs Landschap, Gemeente Venlo, and Natuur en Milieufederatie Limburg* embraced the idea, and a prototype was developed.

The Pig Tractor

Sjef Meijman (1978) is an artist and pig farmer, or as he likes to put it: visual farmer. His Pig Tractor is a mobile pig sty with a paddock for a few pigs. The pigs are used for precision tilling. Just the piece of soil they need to work on is available to them. Only when they have eaten all the plants or harvest leftovers are they moved to a new piece of land. Travelling through the region, the Pig Tractor can be used in a number of different places: from allotments to pine forests, and from farmers’ fields to national parks. The Pig Tractor goes wherever there is food and the need for tilling.

A sustainable farming system

Museum van Bommel van Dam’s partner in this collaboration is ‘Buitengewone Varkens’ (‘Extraordinary Pigs’): a company that is working towards the enhancement of agricultural sustainability. The Pig Tractor shows that the pig can have a key role in a sustainable farming system. Pigs eat the things we no longer want and convert it into meat. They also till the soil and fertilise the land. The Pig Tractor project mixes agriculture and animal husbandry, and experiments with new ways to produce our food.

Travelling conversation starter

The Pig Tractor project has started in Venlo in September where it will travel through the surrounding landscape starting at petting zoo ‘Kinderboerderij Hagerhof’. HAS students will use the Pig Tractor project to start a conversation about sustainable food production and will make recommendations for a follow-up based on the information gathered. Museum van Bommel van Dam will organise several moments where the public can meet the artist, and people relevant to the business, to go in depth about chances and opportunities. Good to know…

The moving of pigs and their stay in an open-air environment create the risk of the transferral of animal diseases. That is why there are strict rules and regulations for this practice. The initiators of the project know the current law and abide by it. Requirements concerning transport, choice of location, food, and shelter of the pigs, meant to prevent the contact with other pigs or wild boar, are being followed.

*the Limburgian Association for Agriculture and Horticulture, HAS University of Applied Sciences, The Limburgian Landscape Foundation, the City of Venlo, and the Nature and Environment Federation Limburg

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