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ReMIX H2020 - Intercrops

A fruitful conference to share scientific results at the leading edge of knowledge on intercropping: DIVERSify and ReMIX joint event

Diversify ReMIX final conference
The DIVERSify and ReMIX projects joined forces with the Association of Applied Biologists to hold a three-day virtual conference on ‘Intercropping for Sustainability’ on 18th-20th January 2021.

The meeting attracted over 150 delegates from research and farming in countries across Europe and beyond. The three days of the conference were organised into nine talk sessions and two poster sessions, with a total of 43 platform talks and 38 posters, covering themes from crop breeding to understanding biodiversity mechanisms to practical intercrop management and decision support.

We were pleased to welcome four invited speakers who offered different disciplinary perspectives on the role of biodiversity in the functioning of agroecosystems. Dr Antoine Messéan (Institut National de la Recherche pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement, France) presented the collaborative efforts of the Crop Diversification Cluster of Horizon 2020 projects in supporting transitions to sustainable agri-food systems through crop diversification. Professor John Vandermeer (University of Michigan, USA) explained the theoretical and empirical approaches he uses to understand multispecies interactions in the pest control system of shade coffee in the Americas. Professor Bernhard Schmid (University of Zürich, Switzerland) gave a thoughtful viewpoint on breeding for diversity with his talk on ‘A post-Darwinian agriculture’. A talk by Professor Maria Finckh (University of Kassel, Germany) on ‘Intra- and interspecific diversity: The cornerstones of agroecological crop health management’ highlighted how her research has uncovered the complex interactions between diversity and the abiotic environment. All these talks were followed by sessions where delegates could post questions for the speakers in live interactive discussions.

Each day was introduced by a different member of the DIVERSify and ReMIX projects, starting with a welcome from Alison Karley (The James Hutton Institute, UK) on the first day, followed by Jean-Noël Aubertot (Institut National de la Recherche pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement, France) on the second day, and Charlotte Bickler (Organic Research Centre, UK) on the third day. It was a great opportunity for projects from across the Crop Diversification Cluster to share and discuss their research findings. 

On the second day, Caroline Drummond (Linking Environment and Farming, UK) hosted an evening panel discussion with panel members offering their insights into intercropping from farming, breeding, agronomy and research backgrounds. This session engaged many stakeholders from the agricultural community who put forward questions about intercropping and explored the challenges and opportunities from a range of perspectives.

In the last session of the conference, delegates saw a preview of the final episode of DIVERSify’s web series of short films, which provided an opportunity to discuss the recommendations coming out of intercropping projects for farming practice, knowledge sharing, incentives, and future research priorities.

This fruitful conference permitted sharing of results at the leading edge of knowledge on intercropping. Despite being online, it allowed delegates to interact with speakers and posters presenters and foresee future avenues, not only for research but also for European farming systems. We look forward to continuing these discussions in a range of upcoming events:

‘Troubleshooting the practical challenges of intercropping’. 2-5 pm on Tuesday 9th February 2021. A virtual event from the DIVERSify project to present technical and technological solutions to the practical challenges of intercropping and discuss priorities in addressing technology gaps with a panel of industry experts. See: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/troubleshooting-the-practical-challenges-of-intercropping-tickets-136587748633

‘European legumes in transition’. 14th – 15th April 2021. A joint virtual event from the LegValue and TRUE projects to showcase transition paths for home-grown legumes in more sustainable food- and feed-value chain in Europe. See: http://www.legvalue.eu/conference/registrant-booking-form/

‘Intercropping to boost agroecology in Europe’. 23rd March 2021. A joint virtual event from the ReMIX and DIVERSify projects to disseminate scientific and technical messages about intercropping to stakeholders and policy makers. Details will soon be released.