DiVicia (2020-2023) is a PRIMA project (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area. It is coordinated by ESA, France and aims at restoring agrodiversity by revalorizing faba bean and vetches in Mediterranean cropping systems
DiVicia aims to exploit the particular properties of legumes (Fabaceae) such as the symbiotic nitrogen fixation to design added value sustainable and resilient cereal cropping systems based on biodiversity, and adapted to the current and future constraints of the Mediterranean Basin. It promotes the ecological intensification of production systems through the exploitation of crops and soil ecological functions, and of functional biodiversity. Using the contrasting crops faba bean (Vicia faba) and vetch (V. sativa) as study cases (faba bean for N-rich grains and vetch for forage), DiVicia aims at restoring agrodiversity, through the identification of a variety of promising landraces and stress resistant genotypes to implement best crop diversification practices in Mediterranean cereal systems (rotation, inter-, mix-cropping). DiVicia will mitigate, through a participatory process, the downward spiral of soil fertility decline and food insecurity, with a major impact on improving the livelihoods of the rural populations.
DiVicia specific objectives Objective 1 - Build up a participatory approach to (i) collect tacit knowledge and identify traditional and actual best agronomic practises on crop diversification with legumes, (ii) select reference cereal cropping systems s after sustainability assessment, (iii) perform participatory multilocation diagnoses of selected cropping systems, collect data related on symbiotic nitrogen fixation and organic matter quality, and (iv) transfer methods and knowledge to stakeholders. Objective 2 - Increase knowledge and identify key generic rules on the functioning of biodiversity-based cereal cropping systems including faba bean and/or vetch, and their impact on crop performances and soil fertility, by testing new designs, practices and legume genotypes, to better cope with Mediterranean agriculture challenges. Objective 3 - Build up new tools for farmers as final users, to evaluate innovative cropping strategies at different levels to (i) assess sustainability of biodiversity-based cereal cropping systems including cereal-legume rotations, inter- and mixcropping, (ii) predict soil quality and fertility, (iii) analyse the economic and environmental impacts at farm scale, and (iv) analyse public policy options based on farming biodiversity measures. Objective 4 – Offer an unprecedented collection of diverse and resilient Vicia spp. pre-breeding germplasms based on local agrodiversity, available for a variety of Mediterranean contexts with strategy and tools to speed up breeding for specific traits, in order to increase the productivity and sustainability of cereal cropping systems, and their ability to cope with biotic and abiotic stresses. Objective 5 - Foster the collaboration between the Mediterranean partners and develop a training program pursuing excellence in scientific and technical instruction for young scientists, build up a community of trainees and graduates who will have a shared experience of the wider context of their scientific research through participation in DiVicia’s annual training workshops
For supporting the transition toward sustainable and resilient biodiversity-based cereal cropping systems matching with future challenge in the Mediterranean Basin, DiVicia will: · Promote knowledge exchange between farmers, other stakeholders and researchers, and promote participatory activities, · Combine innovations in crop diversification practices with well characterized, interesting and diverse new local and drought-adapted Vicia spp. genotypes, · Use and adapt assessment tools and diagnoses to evaluate and predict the effect of the proposed practices on the sustainability of biodiversity-based Mediterranean cereal cropping systems, · Provide tools to (i) better manage and predict the effect of agronomic practices on the soil fertility (C and N cycles and organic matter quality), (ii) assess the sustainability of the system and (iii) predict the economic benefits of sustainable practices at the farm scale, as economic actors are also essential to achieve the transition (FAO 2018), · Develop excellence training programs for young scientists in order to pursue and promote this approach, as researchers also play an important role in the development of agroecological practices (FAO 2018).
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