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Diversification through Rotation, Intercropping, Multiple cropping, Promoted with Actors and value-Chains Towards Sustainability

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DiverIMPACTS (Diversification through Rotation, Intercropping, Multiple cropping, Promoted with Actors and value-Chains Towards Sustainability)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2018-12-01 do 2020-05-31

European arable agricultural systems are often characterised by short rotations, or even monocultures, leading to problems such as higher pest pressure, soil erosion, loss of soil fertility and of biodiversity. Temporal and spatial diversification of crops (through rotation, intercropping and multiple cropping) is a key driver for resource-efficient farming systems that could contribute to increasing the productivity and profitability of agricultural systems, to reducing input use and negative environmental impacts and to providing better products to the society. However, despite its potential benefits, crop diversification is currently hindered by various technical, organisational and institutional barriers along the value-chain. Therefore, crop diversification systems will only emerge if clear benefits to farmers and society are demonstrated, if the upstream and downstream value chains are fully engaged, and if the sociotechnical regime is more disposed to support crop diversification.
DiverIMPACTS has the following scientific and technological objectives:
To demonstrate clear benefits of crop diversification through a set of field experiments carried out in key biogeographical regions across Europe and through multi-actor case studies;
To co-design technical and organisational innovations, to stimulate crop diversification and co-learning, and adapt existing multi-criteria assessment methods to the needs of actors;
To remove barriers and promote enablers to crop diversification at the farm, value-chain and local levels;
To develop comprehensive and long-term strategies for the agricultural system at large (farming system, agro-industry, value-chain, research and development, education, advisory systems as well as policy and regulation) to sustain crop diversification.
1/ Results from 99 meta-analyses indicate a positive impact on yields and provide evidence that crop diversification can increase associated biodiversity; however, its economic dimension, inter-annual variability, energy balance or product quality are scarcely studied and few comparisons are made at the cropping system level and beyond;
2/ Preliminary results from our 10 field experiments confirm the potential benefits of crop diversification on productivity, environmental impacts as well as the delivery of ecosystem services but also illustrate various trade-offs between expected benefits;
3/ Crop diversification may even increase risks of agronomic and economic failures due to the high yield variability of diversification crops or the lack of references on new strategies. Adaptation of crop diversification to local conditions is therefore a key issue;
4/ The combination of diversification strategies (rotation, intercropping, multiple cropping) could improve the environmental performances while maintaining economic and social performances; however, the effect is highly variable (positive or negative) and dependent on the pedo-climatic context, the performances of the reference systems and the specific management practices;
5/ Quantitative changes when diversifying cropping systems in the 25 Case Studies were highly diverse and largely positive and, when occurring, the trade-offs observed between different performances dimensions were, in most cases, indicated as acceptable by CSs’actors;
6/ Ten Webinars have been organized to stimulate discussion and learning on ‘practical’ topics inside and outside DiverIMPACTS (https://www.diverimpacts.net/service/webinars.html);
7/ Collaboration with the cluster on Crop Diversification (https://www.cropdiversification.eu/) has been consolidated, leading to joint dissemination actions and the organisation of the first European Conference on Crop Diversification;
8/ An actor-oriented multi-criteria assessment framework was developed and applied to the case studies to support transition towards diversified cropping systems (https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/12/13/5434);
9/A preliminary indicator of ecosystem services provided by diversified crop sequences has been designed in order to help policy-makers and advisors drive crop diversification depending on the local context;
10/ 46 barriers to crop diversification have been identified across the 25 case studies and three ideal-types of food system innovation settings were defined: (i) “Changing from within”, rdiversification for conventional farms and commodity supply chains; (ii) “Building outside”, where diversification is integrated into organic farms and local supply chains; and (iii) “Playing horizontal”, where all value chain actors promote crop diversification strategies (http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0229910);
12/ Communicating benefits related to crop diversification was found to have a relatively weak impact on the willingness-to-pay of consumers in a lab experiment carried out in France;
13/ In addition to the project website and social media, DiverIMPACTS set up the website for the cluster (https://www.cropdiversification.eu/ ) as well as an internal workspace supporting the collaboration within the cluster;
14/ Seven newsletters were released and provide a thorough update of the results and activities of the project;
15/ Ten practice abstracts were finalised, published on Zenodo and the project website.
16/The European Conference on Crop Diversification (ECCD) was organised in Budapest by ÖMKI and INRAE, in collaboration with the cluster partners. The conference attracted as many as 215 participants from 25 countries. The outcome of the conference is available via the dedicated website (https://www.cropdiversification2019.net/). The presentations and the full proceedings are stored on the Zenodo Community of the event (https://zenodo.org/communities/eccd2019/);
1/ Identify success and failure factors associated with a wide range of crop diversification experiences;
2/ Establish a framework for policy analysis and recommendations for tailored policy instruments to support crop diversified systems adoption;
3/ Quantify the direct and indirect impacts of crop diversification all along the value chain – from farm to fork – under a wide range of situations.
4/ A multi-criteria assessment tool designed to assess benefits and drawbacks brought by crop diversification in terms of technical and economic performances as well as social and environmental services;
5/ Specifications of machinery equipment that could help foster crop diversification;
6/ Logistic and contractual schemes as well as economic instruments to overcome current barriers;
7/ Novel business models resulting from crop diversification, short supply chains and varied ecosystem services;
8/ Innovative collaboration paths between rural actors such as farmers, logistic providers, processors, retailers and consumers;
9/ An open-access database gathering the characteristics and the performances of crop diversification strategies studied;
10/ Implement a network of key actors and experts in agrifood systems as a basis for wider adoption of crop diversification beyond the project lifetime;
11/ Develop a learning-for-innovation methodological platform;
12/ Design and propose a new training and education strategy to enhance crop diversification;
13/ Set up a long-term network of field experiments covering the diversity of biogeographical regions;
14/ Develop a practical decision tree to help actors assess benefits of crop diversification under their specific contexts.
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