Agricultural production faces numerous challenges regarding competitiveness, conserving natural and non-renewable resources (water, soil, air, phosphorus, fossil fuels) and ecosystem services (pollination, natural pest control, soil fertility). Society also expects from agriculture to be more environment-friendly in several issues such as climatic change, declining biodiversity, fossil energy depletion, and water shortage.
To overcome these limitations, CANTOGETHER will design innovative sustainable mixed farming systems (MFS). A design-assessment-adjustment iterative cycle will be adopted to ensure continuous validation and improvement of the innovative investigated MFS through a participative approach involving stakeholders and researchers across Europe. It will bring together a European network of 24 existing experimental and commercial farms covering a wide diversity of natural and socio-economic conditions in which the most promising MFS will be implemented in order to verify their practicability and to perform an in-depth integrated assessment (economic and environmental).
The MFS will be designed for individual farm level or collective implementation at the territorial level. At the same time, CANTOGETHER will define recommendations for a common agricultural policy promoting the development of these MFS.
The innovative analysed MFS will be based on the simultaneous utilization of crops (cash, feed and energetic) and various rearing animals with full recycling practices of animal wastes in view to ensure high resource-use efficiency (notably of nutrients), reduction in dependence on external inputs (fertilisers, pesticides, concentrated feeds), and acceptable environmental and economic performances.
CANTOGETHER will produce a complete picture of their effects and will facilitate their adoption by jointly involving researchers and the key actors of the agricultural sector (farmers, advisors, policy makers, and actors of the food supply chain).