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News from the MAPs: a year of activities in the field
The second year of the ReMIX project witnessed an intense activity of the Multiactor Platforms established in each country. Here is an update of some of them
German MAP: farmers invited to the Ecological Field days in Frankenhausen (by Johannes Timaeus)
The on-farm experiments with wheat-pea species mixtures with four German farmers were successfully established. Peas flowered beautifully in May and now start to fruit. The wheat headed and also looks fine. One farmer stated that the mixture looks very promising and might be an excellent option to reduce environmentally harmful inputs. The farmers were invited to the Ecological Field Days (3rd and 4th of July 2019) taking place at the main Research Farm of Kassel University in Frankenhausen, where different species mixtures were demonstrated in the fields.
Drone view from the Ecological Field Days in Frankenhausen
Danish MAP: three species mixtures analyzed through plant cuts (by Christine Aare)
The 17th of June 2019 eight Danish satellite farmers gathered to learn from and evaluate the on-farm trials of one of the satellites. The group monitored three types of species mixtures including pea+barley, pea+faba bean and wheat+alfalfa through plant cuts and visual observations on functions and services provided by the mixtures. Taking point of departure in the aim of each species mixture formulated by the host farmer, the other farmers assessed the success of each mixture and gave constructive suggestions for a more optimal way of management or alternative mixtures to reach the same objective. The Danish satellite farmers will visit another satellite farm in October to exchange further experiences, evaluate the yield of on-farm species mixture trials and discuss strategies for selling.
Evaluating on-farm trials in Denmark @Simon Wittus Skottfelt
Swedish MAP: plans for joint-assessment during the flooring and harvesting times (by Raj Chongtham)
In Sweden, field trials were established in spring 2019 in four farmers’ farms (Satellite fields) in Halland province and in one Central field at the SLU organic research field in Alnarp, Skåne province. The farmers and advisors involved in the MAP visited the Central field, which is testing 11 crop mixtures (consisting of three legumes and two cereal crops), on 12 June 2019. During the visit, the farmers shared their experiences of the ongoing experiments in their fields, observed and discussed about the experiment in the Central field and made plans for joint-assessment during the flowering and harvesting times. The visiting team gave insights on the cause and prevention of bird-damage to (young) fava bean plants, and identified the damage caused by frit fly (Oscinella frit) to some of oat plants, in the Central field. SLU researchers are looking forward to the upcoming reciprocal visits to the farmer’s fields on July and August 2019 for assessing/collecting samples for crop performances.
Looking at the fields in Alnarp, Sweden, during an activity organized by the Swedish MAP. @Raj Chongtham
Greek MAP: thinking on how to approach the harvest (by Christos Dordas)
In Greece four MAPs with farmers were established, using wheat-pea mixtures and their monocrops. At the moment they are very close to be harvested. The crops were well established and grew well, so the expectations are to have a good yield. Farmers think that it will be a useful alternative to mono-cropping and showed a good adaptability. One concern is the harvest: it seems like it will all be done at the same time, to then separate the grains afterwards.
The 11 Swiss on-farm experiments investigating mixtures of lupine and different associated crops were successfully established. Lupine flowering is now coming to an end. The pods already formed promise a good yield. At the beginning of July, the farmers participating to the project, but also the other farmers interested by the subject, are invited to share their experience with lupine during a field visit. Different crop mixtures, seeding densities and seeding techniques were presented during this visit.
Lupine combined with different crops was evaluated at the Swiss MAP (@Marina Wendling)
In Spain, the central field was established in January 2019, containing demonstrations of strips as preliminary tests to check some mixtures in which INTIA has no previous experience. A test was carried out with replicated blocks using different densities of wheat + lentil and wheat + chickpea, using two sowing patterns. In this trial, foliar and root diseases, weeds, protein content in wheat, legume height and yield are being evaluated. On 16 May 2019, a visit to the central field and a co-creation workshop took place: about 10-15 organic farmers visited the trials and discussed the interest, difficulties, barriers and advantages of intercropping. During this season also four farmers (from the satellite farms) are testing intercrops of wheat + chickpea and wheat + lentil in one-hectare fields.
Spanish MAP fields visited by project partners (@Cristina Virto)
West France MAP: first results need confirmation (by Maureen Stadel)
Things are going well in the West-France MAP. In addition to the 2 autumn trials (oilseed rape-companion crops and barley direct sowing under cover crop), 3 new trials were created in spring: maize-barley, sunflower direct sowing under cover crop and lentils-wheat. These trials, respectively, seek to fight against fireworms in maize, birds eating sunflower seeds and lodging of lentils. Around 30 farmers are now part of the West-France MAP. Ratings and measurements have been done, and it’s now time to analyze the results.
The cover crops (white and brown mustard with radish and vetch with radish) attract barley’s aphids instead of repelling them
Barley attracts fireworms and reduces their attacks on the maize
Sunflower direct sowing under cover crop doesn’t disrupt birds and slows down the sunflower development
Wheat reduces the lentils lodging
Nevertheless, statistical analysis is needed to confirm these hypotheses. Results are expected in September 2019.
Maize barley intercropping at the West France MAP (@Maureen Stadel)
Scottish MAP: sharing experiences on facebook(by Robin Walker)
In the UK, a number of intercrop field experiments were established in spring 2018 (6 farms) and again in spring 2019 on 8 farms (Satellite fields), mostly in Scotland. In addition, small replicated plot experiments were established at the Central field site located close to the SRUC Aberdeen Campus in both years. During several events, e.g. Cereals in Practice at the Cental field site in July 2018, and the AgroEcotech event near Huntly that took place in July 2018, as well as the Leven and Lismore Field Labs held in Ocotber 2018 and June 2019 respectively, farmers and researchers discussed their experiences of the ongoing experiments in their fields, benchmarking approaches linked to their observations, how these related to the experiments in the Central field and their own situation as well as what intercrops they may try next based on their experiences and targeted end-use. Throughout this period, a closed Facebook Group for the UK MAP was used to further discuss farmer experiences and request information or offer advice within the group.
The Central field site near SRUC Aberdeen in late summer 2018 (@Robin walker)
A discussion between farmers and researchers while observing a pea-oat crop destined for combining at the Lismore Field Lab event, June 2019 (@Robin Walker)
South West France MAP: testing the machines for harvesting and separating intercrops (by Laurent Bedoussac)
After the 2018 prospecting campaign during which 43 farmers was contacted, and after interviewing 28 of them, the project performed 6 co-design workshops to design the outlines of 11 crop mixtures. Harvesting of these co-designed intercrops is now taking place on areas ranging from 2 to 30 hectares such as Barley-Pea, Barley-Lentil, Wheat-Fava bean, Oat-Pea, Oat-Fava bean, Wheat-Lentil, Triticale-Wheat-Fava bean-Pea or Barley-Oat-Fava bean-Pea-Vetch. This harvest gives the chance to evaluate with ReMIX partner AGCO the ability to harvest intercrops and with ReMIX partner Etablissement Denis the ability to separate the grains... a first answer will be given by the end of August.
Laurent Bedoussac explaining the functioning of intercropping to a group of farmers in order to design innovative systems
A group of farmers visiting an intercrop field experiment in Southwestern France.
Dutch MAP: field demonstrations at central trial fields and wheat for bread baking(by Boki Luske)
On the 20th of June 2019 the two central trial fields of the Louis Bolk Institute in the Netherlands were visited by group of 45 stakeholders: arable farmers, dairy and poultry farmers, extension officers, advisers, traders, buyers, seed companies, students and researchers. The group existed of many new faces from the organic and conventional sector, of which most of them heard about the possibilities of crop mixtures of cereals and legumes, for the first time. They were evidently amazed by the fact that the protein content of cereals was on average raised from 9% to 11%, as we measured in the ReMIX trial with wheat-faba bean in 2018. The goal of the trial to search for varieties to synchronize the ripening was discussed as well as the institutional barriers that exist, like the lack of market for crop mixtures. During lunch time all stakeholders could try lupine rolls, lupine spread, bread from wheat with 25% faba bean flower and roasted faba bean. Overall it was a very succesfull day, with visitors from many directions who got a pleasent introduction to the benefits of legumes in crop rotations and crop mixtures. All visitors will be invited at our evaluation session at the end of the year.
Visitors at the lupine-wheat central trial field (@Boki Luske)
On the 24th of June 2019 a group of in total 40 arable farmers, millers and bakers visited the central trial field of the Louis Bolk Institute in the Netherlands. The network day was organized by four bakers which want to stimulate the interest among bakers for Dutch cereals and bread form Dutch flower. Due to the climate circumstances, the protein and gluten levels of Dutch wheat is not very high in general. By building a network and more knowledge about baking techniques, they want to develop local value chains. Researcher Floor van Malland who coordinates all the work at the central trial field explained the differences between wheat cultivars and wheat popoulations and what the effect is of mixed cropping with legumes like faba bean. The millers and bakers were asked to share their needs for figures of the cereals they use. Is the protein content sufficent information for bread baking? Or do they use the Zeleny or sedimentation to ajust the fermentation and baking process? The group answered that 12% of protein is in general the minimum for baking on larger scala. Protein quality and the ability to form gluten are also an indicator for bread baking and starch quality is important for the waterbinding capacity. With this information from the stakeholders the researchers will elaborate which analyses will be conducted with the produces from the trial field to measure the effect of crop mixtures on the baking quality of wheat. However, the bakers mentioned that traditional bakers don’t use these figures. With experience, skills and knowledge traditional bakers have the know to ajust the fermentation and baking process for any type of flower, to produce tasty bread without any additives.