the opportunity

Increasing the diversity of crop systems offers encouraging prospects for enhancing and stabilising crop yields: species-rich systems often show higher productivity than monocultures, with fewer pest and disease outbreaks, improved resource capture and greater resilience to environmental fluctuations and changes in management.


Recently, scientists have acknowledged that agricultural systems could learn from ecological theory by using ecological principles to understand the plant traits and mechanisms that promote productivity in diverse plant systems. Species-rich ecosystems are resource-efficient, highly productive and stable; understanding of these systems will be used to optimise multi-species cropping systems, or ‘plant teams’, offering promising solutions to stagnating crop yields.


Adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, and learning from tacit knowledge of innovative practitioners, will facilitate development of the concepts, methods and tools for crop improvement in plant teams.

The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under agreement No. 727284.