Crop diversification and sustainability: early results from a sample of Italian experiences

In the study "Crop diversification and sustainability: early results from a sample of Italian experiences", which was published in the journal BioAgricultura, 20 actors were interviewed. These farmers and technicians are involved in 17 diversification initiatives including 8 cases concerning organic farming systems and 9 cases concerning conventional farming systems. The diversification initiative introduced new crops (vegetables, cereals, soybean, cover crops) in crop rotation, multiple cropping and intercropping.

The questionnaire asked actors to assess the success of the diversification initiative they were involved in, referring to a number of set objectives. Such objectives may refer to one or all of the following broad macro-goals:

  • Reduction of the environmental impact
  • Improvement of farmers’ income
  • Creation of new value chains
  • Stability of production.

The results presented in this paper are still preliminary, more analysis and the interviews will be carried on later on. Nevertheless, referring to the macro-goals listed above, all the actors viewed their diversification initiative as successful or moderately successful. The more detailed results are as follows:

  • Reduction of the environmental impact: 65 % successful, 29 % moderately successful.
  • Farmers’ income: 50 % successful, 39 % moderately successful.
  • Creation of new value chains: 75 % successful, 13 % moderately successful.
  • Stability of production: 95 % successful.

In the actors’ opinion, many elements played a role in achieving the objectives, indicating the necessity to involve all the actors of the agri-food chains when developing diversification initiatives. From the survey, nevertheless, two elements seem to stand up, namely: assuring sufficient economic resources in order to undertake the projects, and the necessity to operate within an agri-food chain involving retailers too, in order to assure a market for the produce.          

The study is available in Italian on Zenodo (see link below).

Further information


Luca Colombo, FIRAB

Link Article "Diversificazione e sostenibilita dei sistemi colturali: I primi resulati di un Monitoraggio di un campione di esüperienze italiane"