There is a need to adapt our farming systems in Nordic and Baltic regions, as climate extremes are rising and spring droughts are damaging crop yields. To solve this issue, the European Union and the Nordic Council of Ministers are taking a proactive approach toward promoting sustainable agriculture. This is where AgroMixNorth comes in. This cutting-edge project is uncovering the benefits and challenges of growing a diverse mix of crops, like spring barley, oats, and legumes, in several Nordic and Baltic countries. Could this be the key to a more climate-smart and sustainable way of farming? NIBIO and partners will be looking at what has been tried so far, and how successful it is. New ways to combine crops for Nordic agriculture will then be tested under field conditions. In Norway we will initiate new field experiments on the most relevant systems such as the mix culture of cereal and faba bean in Eastern Norway. The researchers will be looking at synergies between effects on yields, carbon storage in soil, nutrient use efficiency and soil biodiversity. By exploring the impact of crop diversity on plant production and soil health, AgroMixNorth is creating new avenues for a greener, more sustainable future for farmers and society.
Climate extremes are projected to become more frequent and severe in Nordic and Baltic regions. In particular, spring droughts lead to a significant reduction in crop yields with negative economic consequences for farmers and society. Therefore, resilient production (eco)systems that deliver genuinely long-term sustainable cropping systems are required to secure crop productivity that will contribute to necessary climate change mitigation. The EU Common Agricultural Policy reform promotes a policy of sustainable intensification of agricultural land e.g., via crop diversification. Yet, little is known on the potential of diversified cropping systems and their influence on soil functioning (e.g., carbon sequestration potential, soil biodiversity, nutrient cycling) and food security (e.g., food quality). The aim of AgroMixNorth is to improve our understanding on the impact of crop diversification (both intra- and interspecific), soil functioning and food quality, and to evaluate potential synergies and trade-offs arising from specific agricultural management systems. Focus will be on systems that include an increase of the intraspecific diversity of cereal crops with and without intercropping of legumes or cover crops. In Norway we will map existing datasets and initiate new field experiments on the most relevant systems such as the mix culture of cereal and faba bean in Eastern Norway. We will further use the STICS model to predict the effects of species competition on crop yield and soil C input under different climatic scenarios. The project is constructed around the central hypothesis that diversified cropping systems, due to their spatial and temporal niche complementary, are more climate-smart and resilient cropping systems compared with mono-culture systems.