A ‘crop diversification cluster’ has been set up whereby partner organisations from countries across the climatic zones of Europe, along with expertise from international partners, are joining forces to diversify European agriculture.
Roger Vickers, chief executive of PGRO, explains the background to the initiative: “It is well-accepted that the diversification of crops through rotation, multiple cropping and species mixtures can allow farming systems to become more resource-efficient with fewer agronomic inputs.
“To this end, the crop diversification cluster has been set up to maximise the impact of six projects, all of which receive funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. These are DiverIMPACTS, Diverfarming, DIVERSify, ReMIX, LegValue and TRUE
“The legume crops covered are faba beans and peas – which are, of course, the most-grown pulses on UK farms – as well as chickpeas, lentils, lupins and soybeans. The initiative also includes clover, lucerne and cowpeas.
“Projects within the cluster are collaborating to increase the impact of research into diversification and encourage sustained uptake of diversification measures in Europe through innovations across the agri-value chain.”
By working together, the partners will demonstrate the benefits of diversification to farmers and society, and engage with stakeholders in the upstream and downstream value chains by transferring knowledge in:
- Barriers to crop diversification and their solutions.
- Innovative cropping methods, decision tools and new resources for crop diversification.
- New end user focused approaches and field demonstrations across pedo-climatic regions of Europe to share innovations and crop diversification experiences.
- Multi-criteria assessment of system performance at field, farm, value chain and landscape levels.
- Policy recommendations to facilitate uptake of crop diversification.
- Communicating joint activities in the cluster and disseminating joint outputs
Roger Vickers sums up the value of the approach: “PGRO are closely involved with two of the six projects – LegValue and TRUE – and with our obvious interest in pulse and legume cropping we strongly support the diversification of crops through rotation, multiple cropping and species mixtures can allow farming systems to become more resource-efficient with fewer agronomic inputs.
“Diversified systems can help meet the needs of end users for food, feed and industrial products – and simultaneously deliver other ecosystem services and public goods.”