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Pierre Hohmann

Departement of Crop Sciences
Ackerstrasse 113
CH-5070 Frick

Phone +41 (0)62 865-0476
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Launch of the ReMIX project: Redesigning European cropping systems based on species mixtures

EU agriculture needs to develop transition pathways towards agroecology-based, resilient and sustainable farming systems, combining the goals of ensuring productivity with achieving environmentally, economically and socially sustainable development. Exploiting diversity in cropping systems through the use of species mixtures can support achieving the ambitious goal of feeding a raising global population while reducing the environmental impact of the current agricultural practices.

(August 17, 2017) 

Species mixtures, also known as intercrops, crop associations or ‘plant teams’, are well known for their ability to enhance resource use efficiency, improve the control of pests, diseases and weeds and increase crop productivity and resilience in variable climatic conditions. However, a number of practical challenges, such as the absence of specific adapted varieties for mixes and the lack of locally adapted management practices hinder their widespread adoption in Europe.

The ReMIX project will allow to overcome these barriers, through a 4-year collaborative research programme that will produce scientifically credible, but also socially valuable new knowledge, both for conventional and organic agricultural systems.

ReMIX will tackle the main aspects related to the introduction of species mixtures in EU agricultural systems, by addressing the agricultural value chain as a whole. Basic and applied research will be conducted, spanning from the mechanisms underlying the benefits of species mixtures and their adaptability to different pedo-climatic conditions, the production of new genetic resources and identification of varieties suited for use in species mixtures and the simulation of the effects of species choice, management practices and pedo-climatic conditions on species mixtures performance. The project will also develop optimised technical settings for existing agricultural machinery in order to facilitate species mixtures harvest and grain separation.

ReMIX will adopt the so-called "EIP-Agri multi-actor approach", through actively involving local stakeholders in the project. Actors across the agricultural innovation chain in 10 EU countries will be gathered in Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs), where innovation activities will be deployed, spanning from the specification of end-user needs and the co-design of in-field and on-farm experiments to demonstrations with evaluation of new varieties and practices, in order to better grasp stakeholders’ needs and ideas. The project will provide farmers across the different EU agroclimatic zones with readily accessible and practical information on species mixtures for immediate use. The project will also provide advice to overcome regulatory obstacles to the widespread adoption of species mixtures in the EU.

ReMIX partnership encompasses public research and higher education organisations, private research institutions, advisory services, farmers’ cooperatives, agricultural equipment industries and SMEs. The partnership features 23 partners in 11 EU countries, Switzerland and China, and is coordinated by INRA in Toulouse (France). The project started in May 2017 and will end in April 2021.

The Reseach Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL is involved in work package 1 "Multi-actor co-design of species mixtures and on-farm testing" (Raphaël Charles), work package 3 "Analysis of factors and management practices determining the efficiency of species mixtures to control insect pests, diseases and weeds" and work package 4 "Screening, breeding and phenotyping methods for species mixtures" (Pierre Hohmann, Monika Messmer). Within work package 3 and 4, FiBL leads the tasks 3.3 "Understanding interactions between species mixtures and below-ground pests, diseases and beneficials" and 4.2 "Screen and estimate line/population performances in species mixtures".

The project "ReMIX - Redesigning European cropping systems based on species mixtures" is supported by the European Union's HORIZON 2020 research and innovation programme under the Grant Agreement no 727217, and by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) under contract number 17.00091.

Further information

FiBL contact

Pierre Hohmann, FiBL Switzerland