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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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ReMIX H2020 - Intercrops

Co-designing crop diversification at the field level

Field Budapest Co-design session
What do actors want? A session at the European Conference on Crop Diversification chaired by Kevin Morel (Catholic University of Leuven) and Anja Vieweger (Organic Research Centre) tried to give answers to this question

The main objective of this session was to investigate processes of crop diversification from the perspective of farmers and other actors in the primary production sector. We especially aimed to address the interactions between farmers and researchers when dealing with challenges of crop diversification.

The session looked at different options of collaboration, and how knowledge exchange and knowledge co-creation should be approached and designed to achieve the best outcome. Background questions for a general discussion were for example:

  • How can we better inspire actual change of practice on farms?
  • How can we better engage farmers and other stakeholders in the value chain in research design and development?


ReMIX photo workshop diversfication7

The three oral presentations highlighted success factors and key issues to address to develop decision tools or long term experiments to support farmers in crop diversification. The three poster teasers provided useful information for the participants willing to deepen their understanding of this problematic based on other scientific ground experiences. The rich material provided by speakers allowed lively and constructive discussions to happen in the last 20 minutes of the session.


Which were the main conclusions or significant ideas?


  • Developing tools to support farmers in designing agroecological practices such as intercropping, crop mixes or participatory breeding can be a very effective and useful approach, but similar to other participatory research areas, it can be difficult to ensure that the ‘right’ kind of data or reliable information is collected and delivered.
  • It was discussed how crucially important it is to work with facilitators to work with the farmers for the design and set up of the trial.
  • Sometimes it is also necessary for the researchers to collect the data themselves.
  • Involving farmers in the design of support tools is specifically crucial as they are the final users of tools and tools must match their needs and expectations and be ergonomic.
  • One of the major challenges in the development of practical decision support tools within research projects for example is the management of the ‘after-life’ of the method after the project has finished. Often there is no funding available past the project period for maintenance or updating the continuously developing content of decision support tools. In rare cases the process itself of collaboration and co-design is continued for several years beyond the project periods, or the tools are used as legacy to feed into new projects and are updated with new research outcomes. On the other hand also the question arises if a tool should be designed for a long-term use, or if it should rather be used as a kick-start of a new development or approach.
  • For the development of any practical decision support tools in the EU, it is important not to be too generic; the different needs and environment in different countries needs to be taken into account.


With farmers becoming more and more knowledgeable in crop diversification, it might be that there is a new role for scientists as facilitators, using the network of researchers and agronomists to adapt to this shift. Participatory research needs to be open to new and wider consortia, including all actors in the value chain (e.g. processors, policy makes, consumers etc.).