DIVERSify is a consortium of scientists, farmers, advisors, breeders and SMEs to co-construct a new approach and tools to investigate the mechanisms underpinning the benefits associated with cropping plant teams, and the crop traits and agronomic practices promoting these benefits. Focussing on arable and grassland systems, the six objectives are to:
i) identify current best practice for plant teams through participatory engagement with agricultural practitioners and scientific literature;
ii) determine the mechanisms promoting positive plant-plant and plant-environment interactions using ecological principles to define experimentally the underpinning processes;
iii) devise improved plant teams and identify potential breeding targets with a trait-based approach and novel tool to select crop types and deployment strategies that promote performance;
iv) collaborate with stakeholders in European pedo-climatic regions and beyond to validate and demonstrate plant teams and devise practical crop management prescriptions;
v) construct a plant teams decision aid for practitioners by collating trait and agronomy data in a framework that can be interrogated for information on crop selection and management in different regions; and
vi) work with stakeholders and RUR-6 for participatory knowledge exchange between different actors, EU policy and wider society through an appropriate and targeted array of communication media and activities.
The co-innovation approach will allow tacit and scientific knowledge to be applied to real-world challenges in plant team cropping for developing practical solutions, in the form of teams with improved productivity, pest and disease control and environmental benefits. Knowledge exchange on crop traits, management and the decision aid will have impact on farmers, advisors, breeders, science and policy, improving awareness and overcoming barriers to uptake of plant teams for yield stability, diversification, sustainability and resilience.
- Dr Alison Karley, James Hutton Institute
From 01.04.2017 to 31.03.2021