Session 1: Increasing the resilience and resource efficiency of cropping systems
Climate change is expected to increase adverse weather conditions that affect the productivity of cropping systems through complex crop-soil interaction loops. Simulation models help identifying where cropping systems have their weak points and how their resilience can be improved. However, this assumes that ecological functions associated with biogeochemical cycles, in particular water, carbon and nitrogen, are well understood and represented in models. Along this avenue, lab, field and landscape experiments are needed to inform model development, test model-derived hypotheses and assure the technical and agronomical implementation into the real world. This session invites demonstrations of the back and forth between in silico, in vitro and in vivo experimentation at and across different spatial and temporal scales, with a focus on productivity and resource use efficiency, including emissions.
Session 2: Towards pesticide-free agriculture
Current approaches to increase agricultural productivity are based on liberal use of external inputs and on landscape simplification, thereby risking the erosion of agriculture’s long-term sustainability and the biodiversity inherent to agricultural landscapes. While a decline in insects and birds is observed in many agricultural landscapes, impact pathways are not yet fully understood, but agro-chemical are under strong suspicion. Alternative strategies are being developed that harness biodiversity as an asset to production, with the potential to combine sustainable agricultural production with biodiversity conservation. This session invites contributions that highlight approaches from field to landscape scales to significantly reduce pesticide applications without compromising sustainable agricultural production that aims at providing sufficient calories and nutrients to everybody in the world.
Session 3: Trade-offs of producing protein from crops and livestock
This session focuses on cropping and livestock systems aiming to find solutions to close nutrient cycles at various scales. We will identify key challenges for agronomy research towards protein production (for food, feed and forage) and put these into the context of the sustainable crop-livestock systems of tomorrow. Themes include: (i) integrating grain and forage legumes into agricultural landscapes (croplands and cultivated grasslands), (ii) exploring the potential of crop-livestock systems to support biodiversity, (iii) optimising organic farming systems; (iv) tapping the potential of diversity and crop-livestock integration across scales, (v) transform cropping systems to deliver on multiple goals (productivity, biodiversity, protein, circularity), and (vi) embedding stakeholder perspectives and ambitions into co-design of future crop and livestock systems.
Session 4: Crop diversification and digitalisation to support transformations in production systems
Digital technologies are assumed essential to tackle the current challenges to crop production, to maintain soil fertility, to provide clean groundwater, to sequester carbon and to increase and promote biodiversity and ecosystem services. At the dawn of massive field data collection through innovative digital technologies and progressive automated field management, cropping systems and agricultural landscapes can reach a higher grade of diversification and multi-functionality that balances the benefits and trade-offs in crop production and accounts for spatial heterogeneity. This session invites contributions that deal with smart use and improvement of agricultural landscapes through digitalization, e.g. multidimensional sensing systems, internet of things and robotics for precision agriculture, to support sustainable agricultural practices and that develop innovative approaches to evaluate diversified cropping systems.