Designing arable fields towards greater crop diversification

Project: PhD

Project Details


There is a growing interest for the uptake of organic and agroecological farming practices that rely less on chemical inputs as compared to conventional cropping as exemplified in the EU Green Deal strategies – the Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity Strategies. Research shows that spatial or temporal crop diversification in arable farming potentially lowers pest and disease pressure and increases resource use efficiency, biodiversity and yield. Strip cropping (SC), i.e. growing two or more crops in long alternating multi-row strips, is proposed as a transition step from a conventional large-scale monoculture to smaller, more diversified fields. To move from the experimental field to commercial application will require knowledge and tools to enable adjustments of the general idea of SC to specific farm contexts. Currently, addressing this ‘how-to’ question is limited by actionable knowledge on designing SC systems to simultaneously improve sustainability in bio-physical, economic and social dimensions at farm scale. Therefore, this PhD research is aimed at a combination of enhancing generic knowledge on the effects of SC for multiple ecosystem services, and an approach to enable context-specific on-farm implementation of SC. Multi- year, multi-location on-station experimentation will provide scientific evidence on the effects of SC on pest and disease regulation and production. On-farm trials where re-design plans are implemented and tested by farmers will generate knowledge on detailed changes needed in SC farm operation. Utilizing the SC farmer network, outcomes of this research aim to contribute to accelerating the transition process towards more diversified arable cropping systems in the Netherlands.
Effective start/end date1/06/205/07/24


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