By making use of crop diversity, field crops can benefit from and contribute to the restoration of biodiversity in the Netherlands. By quantifying the effects on biodiversity, a functional trait database for biodiversity can be created, with which effects can be scaled up.
50 percent of all terrestrial biodiversity in the Netherlands can in principle be found in agricultural areas. There are very strong indications that the biodiversity of soil life, flowering plants, insects and meadow- and fieldbirds in the agricultural area have decreased significantly in recent decades. This decline is seen as a serious threat because the following functions are undermined:
- functional biodiversity in agriculture,
- consumer confidence in products from the Dutch agri-food chain,
- the resilience of agricultural systems and natural ecosystems,
- green and blue ecosystem services of the rural area,
- the natural capital of the Netherlands.
There is a global realization right now that a more diverse agriculture is needed for the health of the planet as well as ourselves. In anticipation of this, various WUR projects on crop diversity have been launched in the past 10 years. Where variation within the plot has been introduced by row, strip and / or complete mixed cultivation or combinations thereof.
Agronomic benefits in production (increase in yield / ha and product quality) and efficiency of land, light, water and nutrient utilization in annual crop combinations have been repeatedly and significantly demonstrated.
In addition to agronomic benefits, the (now endangered) functions of biodiversity also seem to be strengthened. The research question is to what extent crop diversity can actually contribute to the conservation of biodiversity.