FABulous Farmers


Project Summary

FABulous Farmers is a European project designed to support farmers in the transition to more agro-ecological practices on their farms. The project aims to reduce the reliance on external inputs, like chemical fertilisers and pesticides, by encouraging the use of methods and interventions that increase the farm’s Functional AgroBiodiversity (FAB). These are targeted measures of biodiversity in and around the field to improve pollination, pest management, soil and water quality on the farmland.

One example is to attract beneficial pest-eating insects by planting strips of wildflowers in the same fields as cereal crops. Another example would be to break the routine of single-crop production; a rotation of crops has a beneficial effect on soil quality, the impacts of weeds are reduced and production yield increases. The project assists the farmers in identifying and adopting relevant FAB-methods specifically for their farm. Networking sessions will be organised in which the farmers can exchange ideas and experiences. Several demonstration fields will show the effects of particular FAB-measures so that farmers and others can come and see how the measures work.

The effect of some FAB-measures taken on the farm can be improved further by similar actions in the surrounding area. That’s why we are active in 12 pilot areas in 5 countries (BE, NL, LUX, FR and UK) in which we cooperate with other stakeholders, e.g. landowners and municipalities, to come to an integrated FAB-landscape-integration plan. At the same time, the local community will be involved and engaged with educational materials, practical and fun activities and the use of citizen-science tools to help monitor the effects of the interventions. The community activities will be tuned to needs and environment of the 12 pilot regions.

The results of the trial fields and on farms overall will be communicated to European and regional policy makers. In this way the evidence-based lessons learnt in this project can be implemented in ambitious but realistic European and regional agricultural policies. This will lead to an economically viable and buoyant agricultural system that is resilient to climate change.

To deliver this project and achieve these objectives we have a team of 12 project-partners each with their own expertise.

 

Project Partners

  • Hooibeekhoeve APB

    1 Hooibeeksedijk
    Geel
    2440
    Belgium

    View partner details

  • Soil Association

    South Plaza Marlborough Street
    Bristol
    BS1 3NX
    United Kingdom

    View partner details

  • Southern Agriculture and Horticulture Organisation

    225 Onderwijsboulevard
    's Hertogenbosch
    5223 DE
    Netherlands

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  • Association of Chambers of Agriculture

    Atlanpole la Géraudière
    Nantes
    44939
    France

    View partner details

  • Natural Environment Research Council

    North Star Avenue
    Swindon
    SN2 1EU
    United Kingdom

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  • Biobestgroup

    18 Ilse Velde
    Westerlo
    2560
    Belgium

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  • Province of Antwerp

    22 Koningin Elisabethlei
    Antwerpen
    2018
    Belgium

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  • Agricultural Technical School Ettelbruck

    72 Avenue Lucien Salentiny
    Ettelbruck
    9080
    Luxembourg

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  • Own Capital of the Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

    92 bus 1 Burgemeester Van Gansberghelaan
    Merelbeke
    9820
    Belgium

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  • National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty

    1 Heelis, Kemble Drive
    Swindon. Wiltshire
    SN2 2NA
    United Kingdom

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  • Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics / University of Amsterdam

    904 Science Park
    Amsterdam
    1098 XH
    Netherlands

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  • Landscape park De Merode

    Diestsebaan 28
    Herselt
    2230
    Belgium

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  • Innovatiesteunpunt

    Diestsevest 40
    Leuven
    3000
    Belgium

    View partner details

  • Agro-environmental management centre

    40 Diestsevest
    Leuven
    300
    Belgium

    View partner details

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
Agro-environmental management centre 40 Diestsevest
Leuven
300
Belgium
bart.schoukens@boerennatuur.be www.agrobeheercentrum.be
Name Contact Name Email Country
Hooibeekhoeve APB Katrien Geudens Katrien.geudens@provincieantwerpen.be Belgium
Soil Association Liz Bowles lbowles@soilassociation.org United Kingdom
Southern Agriculture and Horticulture Organisation Wico Dieleman Wico.dieleman@zlto.nl Netherlands
Association of Chambers of Agriculture Pascal Dagron contact@ac3a.chambagri.fr France
Natural Environment Research Council Prof Bridget Emmett bae@ceh.ac.uk United Kingdom
Biobestgroup Felix Wackers felix.wackers@biobest.be Belgium
Province of Antwerp Laurien Danckaerts laurien.danckaerts@provincieantwerpen.be Belgium
Agricultural Technical School Ettelbruck Gérard Conter gerard.conter@education.lu Luxembourg
Own Capital of the Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Lies Messely lies.messely@ilvo.vlaanderen.be Belgium
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty Phil Lakin phil.lakin@nationaltrust.org.uk United Kingdom
Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics / University of Amsterdam Paul C.J. van Rijn p.c.j.vanrijn@uva.nl Netherlands
Landscape park De Merode Sander Dragt Sander.DRAGT@landschapsparkdemerode.be Belgium
Innovatiesteunpunt Bart Schoukens Bart.Schoukens@Boerennatuur.be Belgium

Events


Towards a FABulous CAP

, Virtual

Based on the project findings, key policy recommendations have been stipulated for the implementation of FAB measures at the EU policy level, including through the new Common Agricultural Policy’s (CAP) green architecture. These recommendations are bundled in a policy paper that will be presented and discussed during this event.
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Masterclass - Mixed crops

, Virtual

22/4/2021 14:00 CET During this masterclass we will focus on the use of mixed crops for forage production. Experts from the UK, Belgium and Luxembourg will share their expertise on the establishment and harvest of herbal leys and fodder legumes.
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Masterclass - Crop rotation

, Virtual

During this masterclass we will explore how to succesfully implement crop rotations in your farm management. We will discuss the benefits and challenges of crop rotations, and discuss a succesful method to design crop rotations in France.
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What's in that flower strip? (Webinar, Dutch)

, Virtual (webinar)

By sawing flower strips in the correct places and with the correct species, these field margins haven't only got an esteatic value, but they are also usefull for agriculture! Next to pollinaters, benefical insects are attracted that combat harmful insects in the crops on the field aside. This has a positive effect on both yield and use of plant protection products. Are you interested in FAB and field margins as a support of your agricultural system? Then join this webinar!
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WP1: Collect, deepen and share knowledge on FAB

There is an urgent need for increased resource efficiency in farming systems to make the transition to more circular agro-ecosystems, which depend less on external iputs and censerve natural resources (soil, water, biodiversity). A very promising concept in this regard is Functional AgroBiodiversity (FAB). FAB refers to the application of farm management practices that enhance and exploit elements of biodiversity for their role in providing ecosystem services (e;g; pollination, biological pest control, soil erosion control, water retention...) and supporting sustainable agricultural production. Although a lot of research has been done, knowledge on FAB is still very fragmented and has not resulted in practical on-the-farm tools to assist farmers in their decision-making for implementation of FAB in their farming activities. This is why we develop a FAB solution toolkit in order to improve the effective use of FAB-solutions for dairy, arable, open filed vegetables and mixed farms. We gather and enhance currently dispersed knowledge and we adapt available but underused development support tools, methodologies and monitoring systems to ready-to-use material.

WP2 Widen uptake of FAB solutions by farmers through demonstration and support

In this work package the knowledge gathered in WP1 will be brought together in a FAB action plan, created with and for the farmers, for each pilot area. the plan is dynamic and will be adjusted based on the knowledge build through demonstrations and implementations on the farms. Demonstration of FAB actions on a growing number of farms, discussion about the effects in the regional network sessions and advice by teh flying experts and kitchen table talks will ensure the uptake of FAB-actions by farmers.

WP3 Embed FAB in the local society

In all pilot regions local stakeholders will be closely involved by regional project partners to increase the long term support and effectiveness of measures taken by farmers. To embed FAB solutions whitin landscape management a regional FAB-landscape integration plan will be developed in each pilot area.

Tools and methodologies will be selected and implemented in the pilot areas for embedding FAB in local communities. With the aid of citizen science tools for monitoring FAB, citizens will assist farmers' decision-making on FAB-solutions. The results of the monitoring by citizens and farmers will be discussed in FAB-farmer-citizen meetings. The objective of these meetings is to foster community building and reconnect farmers with the wider society.

Partners of all pilot areas will work together to produce policy papers, that describe the benefits of FAB-solutions for their policies and list possible policy measures. In this way the use of FAB is assured for the future!

 

 

The effect of some FAB-measures taken on the farm can be improved further by similar actions in the surrounding area. That’s why we work in pilot regions in which we cooperate with other stakeholders, e.g. landowners and municipalities, to come to an integrated FAB-landscape-integration plan. At the same time, the local community will be involved and engaged with educational materials, practical and fun activities and the use of citizen-science tools to help monitor the effects of the interventions. 

The pilot areas will serve as an axample for other pilot areas regarding to certain FAB solutions and by extension to the rest of the NWE region.

 

The 12 pilot areas are spread over 5 countries, as shown on the map. In each area the farmers can choose from a list of 10 FAB-solutions to implement on their field.

The pilot areas are:

  • De Merode (Belgium)
  • Het Pajottenland (Belgium)
  • Pays de la Loire (France)
  • Ouest et Brocélian Bretagne (France)
  • Eure Normandie (France)
  • Stausee Ouwersauer (Luxembourg)
  • Hoeksche Waard (The Netherlands)
  • West-Brabant (The Netherlands)
  • Zeeland (The Netherlands)
  • East of England (United Kingdom)
  • Pembrookshire (United Kingdom)
  • South West (United Kingdom)

 The contact persons for the pilot areas, you can find here.

Functional AgroBiodiversity (FAB)

FAB is the biodiversity that is usefull for agriculture. Think of pollinators, soil life... When they are implemented actively, it is named a FAB-measure or FAB solution. So these are targeted measures of biodiversity in and around the field to improve pollination, pest management, soil and water quality on the farmland.

10 FAB solutions

In FABulous Farmers we aim for 10 measures:

  • Non-inversion tillage
  • Crop rotation
  • Mixed crops
  • Cover crops
  • Organic matter input
  • Modify manure quality
  • Agroforestry
  • Hedgerow management
  • Field margin management
  • FAB-supporting action: physical and biological crop protection

More information on these FAB solutions you can find in our digital one-stop shop where all practical information is gathered.

 

For scientific data gathered through the project, we are using WOCAT, a global network on Sustainable Land Management (SLM) that promotes the documentation, sharing and use of knowledge to support adaptation, innovation and decision-making in SLM. 

The FABulous Farmers partners have published some articles on WOCAT. These articels are based on knowledge the partners built in the past. In this way all information is collected in one place. The next step will be to bring all the knowledge (past and new) together on a technical sheet. You can see the data here:

 

 

For practical information on the FAB-solutions and join the FABulous Farmers network, we like to refer to our digital one-stop shop.

  

 

A summary of the project you can find in our flyer in Dutch, English, French and German.

 

 

We've worked hard to give an overview of usefull tools for farmers to decide which FAB measurement gives the best results on their farm or situation. You can find all this bundled in this FAB Farm Decision Support Toolkit.

 

Within the FABulous Farmers project a report was made on the effects of the 10 FAB measures on the environment, on the farmer field as well as on the surroundings. The aim of this report is to:

  • Review methods to measure the environmental performance of FAB solutions. The focus is on biodiversity, soils and water quality.
  • Identify scientific approaches that could be used at the farm level and implemented by farmers or extension workers.
  • Determine if and potentially how these measurement approaches could feed into and support regional or national monitoring.

You can read the full report here.

 

An important part in broad embedding of FAB is the participation and cooperation of the community. During the project we made a review of good practice tools and methodologies that can be used to stimulate the engagement of the FAB community, serving ultimately a triple goal:

  1. fostering the development of a good relationship between the citizens and the farmers, based on mutual understanding,
  2. educating the citizens on the role they can play in the sustainable management of FAB, and
  3. creating a favourable environment for the adoption and implementation of FAB solutions by the farmers.

The full report is available here.

 

Two researchers from ILVO (BE) and Hooibeekhoeve (BE) wrote an article about the FABulous Farmers project. This article was published in 'bodem', a magazine about sustainable soil management. 

Within this article they explain the different FAB measures and show how the project aims to build a (international) farmers netwerk and wants to raise awareness about FAB in the larger society.

You can read the full article here (Dutch only).

The FABulous Farmers team wrote an EU policy paper to combine their recommendations towards European policy makers. Based on the project findings, seven policy recommendations have been formulated that will support the uptake of FAB measures by farmers and establish the policy conditions necessary to realize the agricultural, ecological and societal benefits of FAB.

You can find the full paper here

On the 11th of June 2021 the FABulous Farmers' team presented their EU policy paper in an online conference. Here you can (re)watch our policy event as a whole or some parts of it:

During the project several masterclasses are organised. by a simple click on the links, you can watch the presentations given during this masterclasses!

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