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ReMIX- a project to promote species mixtures in Europe

The ReMIX project is funded by the European Union at a level of €5 million for four years in the context of the European H2020 programme. ReMIX (Redesigning European cropping systems based on species MIXtures) is a project that aims to design sustainable and diversified cropping systems in Europe, based on species mixtures or intercrops for grain production.

ReMIX Species mixtures for redesigning European cropping systems. © INRA
Updated on 12/14/2018
Published on 06/04/2018

The design of cropping systems that are more resilient in the face of food, health, economic, ecological and climatic changes and less dependent on external inputs (chemical fertilisers, pesticides, etc.) represents a major challenge for European agriculture. Based on the principles of agroecology, and notably the benefits of associating different species (particularly cereals and grain legumes), the ReMIX project seeks to provide scientific evidence of benefits and operational responses that will improve the sustainability of European cropping systems.

A cross-disciplinary and multi-actor approach

ReMIX is being coordinated by INRA and involves 23 European partners, associated with a Chinese partner, all working towards the same goal: by using species mixtures, to propose multi-performance solutions that are adapted to the principal crops and different pedoclimatic conditions prevailing in Europe, for both conventional and organic agriculture.

To achieve this, the teams involved in the ReMIX project are working together on several topics:

  • To decipher plant-plant interactions so as to optimise the use of resources (water, nitrogen, carbon, light);
  • To analyse and model the influence of species mixtures on the development of pests, diseases and weeds so as to propose strategies that will limit harvest losses;
  • To analyse the role of species mixtures in improving the provision of ecosystem services;
  • To create new breeding and test phenotyping methods by developing approaches adapted to species mixtures;
  • Among existing genetic resources, to identify innovative plant materials (lines and varieties) that are adapted to species mixtures;
  • Using simulation models to develop generic rules for species assemblage that can guarantee efficient production;
  • To develop new crop management sequences to optimise the performance of species mixtures;
  • To optimise the parameters and specifications of harvesting equipment and the cleaning and sorting of grains  harvested in a species mixture;
  • To develop a tool box for farmers and advisors, notably through the compilation of technical datasheets and the design of a serious game;
  • To reduce the technical, economic and sociological factors that hamper the adoption of species mixtures by farmers and more generally by different actors in agri-food sectors.

To achieve these objectives, ReMIX is basing its efforts on a cross-disciplinary and multi-actor approach that can identify the needs of end users through the joint design of field trials in experimental facilities and on farms, and innovative and efficient farming practices that integrate the evaluation of new varieties and genetic resources, in order to promote high-yield production that is resilient and environmentally friendly.

11 multi-actor and participatory learning platforms across 10 European countries

These platforms have been organised in ten countries to enable the design and evaluation of the combinations of species mixtures adapted to local contexts and for demonstrating the interest of such intercrops. The aim is to involve a broad community of actors to work together and share their own expert knowledge, such as: farmers, consultants, equipment manufacturers, technicians from cooperatives and engineers from technical institutes, companies involved in collection and processing and research scientists from the ReMIX project. The following have already been set up:

● Regional participatory workshops to take account of the needs and constraints of different actors and to determine the species mixtures that are promising or pose the most questions and therefore need to be tested;

● Trial platforms at sites operated by several actors in a region to evaluate species mixtures under real-life conditions and consider practical aspects of their combination (sowing technique and date, fertilisation, weeding, etc.).

Contact: laurent.bedoussac@inra.fr

A consortium of 23 European partners and one Chinese partner

ReMIX brings together 23 European partners and one Chinese partner. Nine INRA research units are involved. Coordinated by Jean-Noël Aubertot (INRA-INP-Toulouse-ENFA-CNRS Joint Research Unit for Agroecology, Innovation and Territories (UMR-AGIR) and Eric Justes (CIRAD, UMR SYSTEM, Montpellier), this project has received funding of €5 million for four years in the context of the European H2020 Programme.

Website: www.ReMIX-Intercrops.eu

. © INRA