Diversity at the agro-ecosystem and farm level as strategy for resilient cropping systems and food chains (KB-29-008-008)

Project: EZproject

Project Details


The general objectives of the proposed work were to:

  1. Improve our understanding of the mechanisms and principles underlying the benefits of managing diversity (i.e. both biological and (in terms of anthropogenic intervention) managerial diversification?), redundancy, connectivity and feedbacks in the case study systems.
  2. Identifying and exploring potential trade-offs and implications between resilience (through diversity) and efficiency (technical, agronomic, economic social) within and between the studied subsystems.
  3. Developing a toolkit for assessing optimum levels of diversity, redundancy and connectivity at different spatial- and temporal scales, in the case study systems.
  4. Formulate more specific and in-depth follow-up research, based on the obtained insights; links with other relevant partners and science groups will be exploited in doing so.


Within this work, 3 case-studies were started, of which one studied the potential added value of the biorefinery concept in current agriculture as a possible resilience enhancing concept to be used in the total food chain from mixed cropping to animal feed. A grass-cow system was chosen as the model system. Biorefinery could be added to such a system as an innovation to increase the feeding options in the farming system, thus increasing resilience.

Based on discussions with the other work packages two parameters were selected to quantify the system performance. CO2 was selected as a measure for sustainability and profit was selected as a measure for economic viability.

Also many possible perturbations were discussed amongst the work packages. For the grass-cow system the final selection yielded two perturbations that were important to the system:

1)    GHG taxation or other system of GHG accounting

2)    Lower import of Non-EU Soy


Although the basis for this modelling work was set in 2016. Many, also very practical questions remain, and the model is not yet operational. Currently, we are trying to convert a very complex, old Matlab model to a new model that can even be accessed in Excel, thus increasing its usability.

Effective start/end date1/01/1731/12/18