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New digital resources to help farmers realise intercropping potential

The Virtual Field Day session looked at crop mixtures
"We’re currently very interested in hearing from any farmers that might want to get involved in running trials as part of the SEAMS project, particularly in the arable farming areas of eastern Scotland"

Researchers at the James Hutton Institute and partner institutions are developing a suite of digital resources to help farmers harness the potential of crop mixtures to improve the sustainability of their production systems.

A Virtual Field Day held in collaboration between the Institute, the Agricology network and the projects Sustainability in Education and Agriculture using Mixtures (SEAMS) and Designing Innovative Plant Teams for Ecosystem Resilience and Agricultural Sustainability (DIVERSify), brought together insights from farmer experience and scientific research. It discussed the role of crop mixtures for addressing different agronomic issues and some of the associated practicalities and end uses.

The session featured Dr Rob Brooker and Dr Ali Karley (James Hutton Institute) with an overview of crop mixtures in research and practice, Andrew Gilchrist (Scottish Agronomy) discussing experiences of trialling 7 different cereal-legume mixtures, Gordon Cairns (Stracathro Estates) who has been growing beans and rye for whole crop (Anaerobic Digestion) and Charlotte Bickler (Organic Research Centre) on selecting mixtures and what to do with the harvested product.

For those who prefer listening to podcasts, intercropping and sustainability were the focus of an episode of LEAFcast, the podcast produced by Linking Environment and Farming UK (LEAF). In it, LEAF technical assistant Emily Trivett chats with Dr Karley and Dr Brooker about the benefits of intercropping and the exciting projects that LEAF is involved with.

Additionally, the DIVERSify project has released the first three films of their Growing Beyond Monoculture mini-documentary web series, which present findings from research trials and work with farmers in Europe and internationally on the issues, challenges and ideas for mixture cropping. The films were produced by Taskscape Media, part of Taskscape Associates, one of the DIVERSify project consortium partners, for advancing knowledge, communication and participation. They can be watched at https://www.plant-teams.eu/watch.

Dr Ali Karley, co-ordinator of the DIVERSify project, explains: “It is an exciting time in the DIVERSify project as we’re starting to release results and resources that we have generated over three years of work on intercropping.

“The mini-film series shows the potential benefits of increased crop diversity from our field experiments and on-farm trials across Europe and North Africa. It also explains the practical challenges of intercropping and reveals the innovative solutions and tools developed by farmers, agronomists, scientists and machinery specialists.”

Dr Rob Brooker, co-ordinator of the SEAMS project and head of the Institute’s Ecological Sciences department, said: “These resources have been created to help farmers learn more about the potential of crop mixtures to improve the sustainability of their production systems and, in the long run, deliver multiple benefits including more biodiverse farmland with reduced carbon emissions.

“I hope these resources explain the essential role of farmer engagement in our work, and why we need farmers to volunteer and help us run crop mixture trials. We’re currently very interested in hearing from any farmers that might want to get involved in running trials as part of the SEAMS project, particularly in the arable farming areas of eastern Scotland. We have funding to help support their involvement and anyone interested in getting involved can contact us via SEAMS@hutton.ac.uk.”

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, James Hutton Institute, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/new-digital-resources-help-farmers-realise-intercropping-potential on 27/09/20 04:55:50 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.