Project: Nature-based perennial grain cropping as a model to safeguard functional biodiversity towards future-proof agriculture

Acronym NAPERDIV (Reference Number: BiodivClim-19)
Duration 01/02/2021 - 31/01/2024
Project Topic The impact of intense annual crop production on natural resources under the threat of climate change has resulted in a global magnification of environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. A concept for mitigating such consequences is the development of perennial grain cropping systems. Thinopyrum intermedium L. (Intermediate wheatgrass) is among the most advanced examples of recently developed perennial grain crops for food or forage production with established experimental sites across Europe. Informed by natural ecosystems, especially grasslands, such systems provide an excellent and innovative design to promote nature-based solutions (NBS) to mitigate agricultural disservices and provide ecological, social and economic benefits (Theme #3 of the BiodivClim Call). With a permanent soil cover, high total biomass production and deeper root systems, perennial grain crops provide fundamental advantages for climate change mitigation/adaptation. Perennial grain crops support highly structured and complex food webs, improving the functional diversity and the conditions for its conservation. However, there is only limited understanding of biodiversity effects, crop performance and ecosystem services resulting from these systems. The systemic research approach of NAPERDIV is founded on comparative analyses between established perennial versus annual grain cropping systems along a Pan-European gradient (Sweden, Belgium, France) with different agro-ecological and climatic conditions. With an inter-disciplinary and multi-sectoral network of researchers and stakeholders across Europe, NAPERDIV will analyse (a) the agronomic performance of intermediate wheatgrass to assess and simulate its resilience against climate hazards, (b) the crop-associated microbiome and its functional benefits (growth promotion, disease suppression), (c) the resilience of the soil microbiome against drought under expected climate variability, and (d) the soil fauna, its benefits and indicator values for crop performance, system diversity and processes. The multiple and transnational impacts of the NAPERDIV outcomes on environment, policy, society and economy will support the EU to strengthen its role as world leader both in research and innovation: (1) NAPERDIV will contribute to a sustainable, nature-based agriculture with limited use of agro-chemicals and benefits for biodiversity and climate change adaptation/mitigation. (2) NAPERDIV will deliver a solid scientific knowledge baseline for on-going and prospective legislative frameworks of the EU for the development of innovative and future-proof solutions of agricultural production addressing environmental and climate objectives. (3) NAPERDIV will contribute to nutrition security and generates novel bio-economic opportunities with investment potentials. (4) NAPERDIV will network at a Pan-European scale securing in the long-run the maintenance of a cooperative and multi-disciplinary research platform within and across Europe.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
NAPERDIV is founded on comparative analyses between established perennial versus annual grain cropping systems along a Pan-European gradient with different agro-ecological and climatic conditions. With an inter-disciplinary and multi-sectoral network of researchers and stakeholders across Europe, NAPERDIV pursues the following objectives: • Analyse the agronomic performance of intermediate wheatgrass to assess and simulate its resilience against climate hazards. • Characterise the crop-associated microbiome and its functional benefits (growth promotion, disease suppression). • Assess the resilience of the soil microbiome against drought under expected climate variability. • Assess the biodiversity of the soil fauna, its benefits and indicator values for crop performance, system diversity and processes.
Website visit project website
Network BiodivERsA3
Call 2019-2020 Joint Call

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany Coordinator Germany
2 Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania Observer Romania
3 INSTITUT SUPERIEUR D'AGRICULTURE RHONE ALPES Partner France
4 Liege University, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech Partner Belgium
5 Graz University of Technology Partner Austria
6 Nicolaus Copernicus University Partner Poland
7 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Partner Sweden