The temporal and spatial diversification of crops, through rotation, multiple cropping and/or associations, enables low-input agronomic practices and is a driver for resource-efficient farming systems. Diversification can fulfil the need to simultaneously produce food, feed and industrial products, and can deliver other ecosystem services and public goods. However, these diversified and low-input farming systems will only emerge if clear benefits to farmers and society are demonstrated and if the upstream and downstream value-chains are fully engaged.
Several H2020 projects launched in 2017, including DiverIMPACTS, address crop diversification (for more information see related projects):
- Diverfarming, “Crop diversification and low-input farming across Europe: from practitioners engagement and ecosystems services to increased revenues and chain organization”
- DIVERSify, “Designing InnoVative plant teams for Ecosystem Resilience and agricultural Sustainability”
- ReMIX, “Redesigning European cropping systems based on species MIXtures”
- TRUE, “TRansition paths to sUstainable legume based systems in Europe”
- LegValue, “Fostering sustainable legume-based farming systems and agri-feed and food chains in the EU”,
- IWMPRAISE, “Integrated Weed Management: PRActical Implementation and Solutions for Europe”.
Special attention is paid to bottom-up innovation and tacit knowledge, resulting in co-production and development of technical, organisational and institutional innovations that can contribute to a long-lasting implementation of diversified cropping systems and their products.
The abovementioned projects have agreed to work together and set up a dissemination cluster that will contribute to the following outputs:
- Innovative crop diversification solutions, including new varieties and breeding strategies, species mixtures/crop associations, novel crop production and protection solutions as well as machinery;
- A network of field experiments across biogeographical regions and pedo-climatic conditions, that demonstrate benefits of crop diversification in terms of productivity, ecosystem services and market opportunities;
- Economic and organisational approaches and incentives to promote new business models along value-chains;
- Development of new products or products with enhanced value for the food/feed or industrial sectors;
- New knowledge-intensive services for farmers and agronomists (advice, decision support, precision agriculture) to help them manage and monitor their transition towards more diversified cropping systems;
- Multi-criteria assessment tools to evaluate the performances of diversified cropping systems at the rotation, farm, value-chain, and landscape levels;
- New actor-oriented approaches through a learning-for-innovation platform, networking case studies and crop diversification experiences across Europe;
- Policy recommendations to make the sociotechnical systems more disposed to crop diversification.