Case study 17: Belgium: Grain legumes intercropping with cereals

Cluster 4: Diversification through intercropping, with a special focus on grain legumes

The goal is to decrease the import of legumes by increasing its production in Belgium. Further reasons are to improve diversification and reduce the use of chemical nitrogen fertilizers.
There is also a consciousness of the advantages with improved protein content in wheat when intercropping with pea, which is a component in the decision of working with intercropping.

Much is known at the agronomic level, such as that intercropping with winter pea and winter wheat is working well. Further focus lies now on creation of added-value in the value chain for this sustainable way to produce legumes and grains.

What are the main problems underlying the emergence of the case study?
The goal is to decrease the import of legumes by increasing its production in Belgium. Further reasons are to improve diversification and reduce the use of chemical nitrogen fertilizers.
There is also a consciousness of the advantages with improved protein content in wheat when intercropping with pea, which is a component in the decision to work with intercropping.
Much is known at the agronomic level; for example, intercropping with winter pea and winter wheat is working well. Some challenges remain, such as determining the position of the intercropping in the agronomical rotations or the weed control. Further focus lies on creating added-value in the value chain for this sustainable way to produce legumes and grains and on scaling-up the production.

How is the problem addressed and which actors are involved?
In this case study, the intention is to focus on scaling up the production by acceptance and promoting it among the farmers as well as creating added-value in the value chain. We identified the “consumer willingness to pay” for ecosystemic services like the major way to create this added-value. Walagri works with different farmer’s groups and with food companies and a retailer to reach these goals.
Walagri has also worked with the Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, University of Liège, in field experiments since 2012 and has undergone farmer’s field tests since 2016 with the intercropping of winter pea and winter wheat.

Solution investigated
Dissemination, economic demonstration and 3-party contracts (Work package 5).
Calculation of indicators that demonstrate the higher level of sustainability (Work package 4).

Expected outcome
The two main goals of this case study are to increase the leguminous production in Belgium and increase the added-value of the agricultural products in low-input systems.

Relevance to the DiverIMPACTS goals?
One important goal is to be a part of the network to develop interactions and to get in close contact with other case studies with a similar focus to acquire knowledge and evaluate other intercropping possibilities.

Contact

  • Olivier Roiseux, Wal.Agri, case study leader
  • Daniel Jamar, CRA-W, case study monitor