Objectives

We explain the main objectives of Diverfarming

Development of new systems

Development of new systems

To develop and test different diversified cropping systems (rotations, multiple cropping and intercrops for food, feed and industrial products) under low-input practices, for conventional and organic systems for field case studies to increase land productivity and crops quality, and reduce machinery, fertilisers, pesticides, energy and water demands.

Benefits study

Benefits study

To explore how the diversified cropping systems can, under low-input practices, increase the delivery of ecosystem services (soil fertility, prevention of soil and water contamination, water availability, reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, carbon sequestration, erosion prevention, above and belowground biodiversity and pest and disease control).

Impact evaluation

Impact evaluation

To evaluate how the downstream value chains and the actors involved will be impacted by the new diversified cropping systems, and so, propose new organizational structures adapted to the new production models from a technical, social, cultural and economic perspective, from farmer to consumer.

Model development

Model development

To develop and test agro-ecosystem models that will explore how the diversified cropping systems influence the land productivity and the soil-plant system in order to select the most suitable option for end-users and policy-makers for each pedoclimatic region and farm size.

Systems evaluation

Systems evaluation

To evaluate the proposed diversified cropping systems on the basis of their economic impact, at all levels. To analyse relevant policies for synergies, conflicts and feedback loops and to develop a set of indicators for characterizing an enabling environment for sustainable crop production and value chain adaptation.

Communication and dissemination

Communication and dissemination

To communicate, disseminate and engage with European farmers, cooperatives, industry and logistics to develop, hone and embrace diversified cropping systems under low-input practices with organized downstream value chains.

Work packages

These are the work packages defined in our project

WP1. Project management and coordination

WP leader: Raúl Zornoza - Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena

The main objective of this WP, that is linked to all WPs and partners, is to ensure the effective management and technical coordination of the project, led by UPCT as project coordinator, through:

  • a precise management according to the contract signed with the EC;
  • a tight monitoring of the objectives to ensure they are achieved efficiently;
  • a high quality and timely delivery of project results, ensuring that milestones are reached on time;
  • a structure to guarantee regular and efficient information flow between all partners;
  • effective data management plan for the datasets generated in the project;
  • gender equality issues addressed in the project;
  • tight control of the quality of financial, administrative, contractual, legal and ethical management.

WP2. Selection of sustainable diversified cropping systems

WP leader: María Dolores Gómez-López - Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena

This WP will involve data mining and decision making, and contributes to all the other WPs through generating the optimised diversified cropping systems with low-input agricultural practices for each pedoclimatic region, leading into the field case studies (WP3, 4 and 5), used as models for adaptation and optimisation of the value chain (WP6) and considered for data analysis and upscaling (WP7), economic assessment (WP8) and policy analysis (WP9). In particular, the main objectives of this WP are to:

  • gather data from previous and ongoing projects and databases to efficiently tailor the diversified cropping systems and low-input agricultural practices, and provide the baseline for value chain analysis, data analysis and upscaling, economic assessment and policy analysis;
  • identify the strengths, opportunities, limitations and drawbacks of crop associations, alternative agricultural practices and strategies for the dominant crops across the Mediterranean North and South, Atlantic Central, Continental, Pannonian and Boreal regions of Europe;
  • investigate the recent application and spreading of these crop associations, practices and strategies, as well as the technical, socioeconomic, cultural and environmental context for implementation;
  • select sustainable diversified cropping systems and crop associations with low-input practices and strategies tailored for each pedoclimatic region.

WP3. Crop production and quality

WP leader: Jorge Álvaro-Fuentes - Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas

This WP provides robust and sound data about how diversified cropping systems with low-input practices and efficient use of resources have positive effects on crop production and quality, and so, farm yields and economic revenues for farmers is increased. This can increase trading productivity with high quality outputs, so improving the competitiveness of European agriculture in the global market. In particular, this WP aims to:

  • establish field experiments as case studies in the six pedoclimatic regions;
  • assess the positive effects of the tailored diversified cropping systems on crop growth and farm yield;
  • assess the improvements in crop quality and nutritional characteristics with the adoption of diversified cropping systems.

WP4. Impact of crop diversification on biodiversity

WP leader: Sören Thiele-Bruhn - Universität Trier

The main objective of WP4 is to provide a scientific understanding of the link between diversified cropping systems, above- and belowground biodiversity, and the resulting ecosystem services provided by soil microorganisms, soil invertebrates and vegetation in agro-ecosystems. Soil organisms contribute to all biogeochemical cycles, SOM mineralization and stabilization, shape soil structure and have associations with plant species promoting growth and development. Diverfarming will assess:

  • the capability of diversified cropping systems with low-input practices to increase biodiversity;
  • how this is controlled by the climate, soil type, crop and cropping system;
  • the functional correlations between soil microbial diversity and activity within different crop associations, agricultural practices, climatic regions, soil factors, nutrient inputs and nutrients cycling;
  • effects of crop diversification, agricultural practices and strategies on invertebrate abundance and diversity and on the occurrence of soil-borne diseases and pests (fungi, insects, nematodes);
  • the interrelationship between microbial diversity and functioning, invertebrate diversity, vegetation diversity and soil quality within a multidisciplinary approach by development of accurate models.

WP5. Environmental impact and delivery of ecosystem services by crop diversification

WP leader: Dénes Lóczy - Pécs University

WP5 has been designed to provide sound and robust scientific understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of the tailored diversified cropping systems for improvement of the environmental quality and delivery of ecosystem services in each pedoclimatic region. In particular, this WP aims to evaluate the ability of tailor-made diversified cropping systems to:

  • improve soil fertility and reduce soil and water contamination;
  • improve soil structure and soil quality and increase soil C sequestration, foster natural soil functioning and promote the formation of stable aggregates;
  • enhance C sequestration by biomass in perennial crops;
  • reduce soil erosion rates;
  • reduce GHG emissions;
  • validate and demonstrate a prototype for mulch-till as sustainable machinery.

WP6. Value chains design and analysis

WP leader: Valentina Materia - Wageningen University

WP6 aims at improving the scientific understanding on how value chain actors can facilitate the adoption and diffusion of diversified agro-ecosystems. More specifically this WP aims to:

  • progress beyond the state of the art in the domain of value chain analysis and design to support processes of crops diversification in the EU;
  • better understand how privately driven changes of the organization of value chain configurations and relationships can facilitate adoption and diffusion of eco-innovation in agriculture;
  • contribute to the debate on how to use learning lessons/outcomes from pilot case studies (operating at niche level) to scale up changes at system level;
  • integrate downstream innovation support in the forms of public policies, with bottom-up and multi-actor actions by practitioners operating in different stages of the value chain.

WP7. Data analysis and upscaling to assess farm productivity and sustainability

WP leader: Roberta Farina - Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria

This WP7 is designed to develop and evaluate models to upscale the findings from other WPs, and provide a DST, SusDiver. Data from other WPs and previous projects will be used. The specific objectives are to:

  • develop mathematical models to explore how diversified cropping systems tested in WP3-5 influence soil-water-atmosphere-plant system from farm to landscape level;
  • identify farm indicators that define sustainability of different diversified cropping systems;
  • implement a simple DST to select the most appropriate diversified cropping systems and agricultural practices to improve farm productivity and sustainability, and to provide guidelines for adaptation and optimization of value chains for high resource-efficiency.

WP8. Economic assessment at farms and value chains

WP leader: Heikki Lehtonen - Luke

The general objective of WP8 is the economic assessment of the selected diversified cropping systems in WP2, from crop production in field to the final value chain on the basis of results from WP3-7. The project has a large European coverage and results will be gathered and assessed in a common framework. This WP aims to:

  • provide an integrated estimate for the direct benefit-cost to farmers (variations in crop yield, machinery fuel, fertilisers, pesticides, water, energy, labour) associated with each diversified cropping system within each pedoclimatic area, using outputs from the previous WPs;
  • provide an integrated estimate for the environmental gains with regard to benefits and costs (variations in C sequestration, biodiversity, pollution, erosion and GHGs emissions) associated with cropping systems linked to value chain cases within reference pedoclimatic areas;
  • provide farmers and actors in the value chain with economic information on the economic benefits and risks associated with diversified cropping systems – including quality, feasibility, usability aspects;
  • find robust approaches to achieve long-term sustainability accounting for sensitivity to future prices.

WP9. Framework for relevant policies

WP leader: Barbara Pancino - Università degli Studi della Tuscia

This WP9 has been designed to identify how to deploy the results of Diverfarming in European policies. This WP specifically addresses policies related to agriculture, agricultural value chain and rural development, by means of identifying the most feasible policy interventions leading to widespread use of sustainable management and diversified systems. This WP will identify key knowledge gaps, uncertainties and risks.

WP10. Communication, dissemination of results and stakeholders engagement

WP leader: Elena Lázaro - Universidad de Córdoba

This WP is designed to communicate and disseminate the purpose and benefits of diversified cropping systems with adapted value chains in general and Diverfarming in particular, promoting public participation, involving diverse groups, and raising awareness at various levels and in various contexts using all types of available media. This aim will require the WP to:

  • ensure that all relevant WPs information is communicated to end-users across and outside the EU;
  • facilitate the involvement of end users/stakeholders in the WPs developing project tools /strategies;
  • make sure that results from the project are embedded in existing products (e.g. the SusDiver DST) and platforms so that it will not be lost after the lifetime of the project;
  • inform the general public about the project and its achievements;
  • provide guidelines to practitioners, industry, researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders of the overall value chain about the added value and sustainability of the initiatives developed in the project.

WP11. Ethics requirements

WP leader: Raúl Zornoza - Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena

This work package sets out the 'ethics requirements' that the project must comply with, with regards to national and European legislation and H2020 Ethical Guidelines.

Results

These are the main results of the Diverfarming project

•	Decision Support Tool

Decision Support Tool

Decision Support Tool (web-based and free app), which places the best research results in the hands of end-users, who are guided to tailor the most suitable diversified cropping system, low-input practices and most adapted machinery to improve land productivity, revenues and ecosystem services, with mechanisms to adapt their value chains to new agribusiness models and market demands;

Guidelines for sustainable diversified cropping systems

Guidelines for sustainable diversified cropping systems

Guidelines for sustainable diversified cropping systems, aimed at end users to improve farm productivity, product quality standards, revenues and ecosystem services with crop diversification;

Protocol for the correct implementation

Protocol for the correct implementation

Protocol for the correct implementation of diversified systems, easy-to-follow by end-users;

Methodological guidelines and toolbox

Methodological guidelines and toolbox

Methodological guidelines and toolbox for value chain adaptation in response to innovative agribusiness models and market demands;

Qualified machinery prototype

Qualified machinery prototype

Qualified machinery prototype to improve soil tillage by reducing environmental impacts;

Communities of Practitioners

Communities of Practitioners

“Communities of Practitioners” as volunteer early adopter farmers and agribusinesses recruited to develop diversified cropping systems in their farming systems as real scenarios, and ensure longevity beyond the project;

White Paper

White Paper

White Paper to scientifically support relevant policies.

Funding

Here is a brief summary of the funding received for the development of the project

  • 1

    Horizon 2020

    European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme for research & innovation under grant agreement no 728003: 9.999.277,50 €
  • 2

    Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation

    Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation: 458.656,25 €