What we do
The Farming Systems Ecology (FSE) group of Wageningen University and Research (WUR) focuses on the analysis and redesign of farming systems and foodscapes, so that they deliver multiple benefits to humankind, using natural processes as our starting point.
Our research is guided towards a vision of a world in which:
all actors are inspired, knowledgeable, and skilled ...
to proactively and jointly develop foodscapes ...
that are abundant and equitable ...
by enhancing and benefitting from the natural capital...
of our communities and environments.
Within this context, our mission is:
To equip the actors in the food system...
with the keys to unlock, redesign and transition farming systems...
by analysing, experiencing and learning from outstanding examples...
of farms and foodscapes around the world.
Our approach combines the following principles, that foster:
- Diversity of approaches and outcomes, tailored to local conditions;
- Ecological processes as the basis for the redesign of foodscapes;
- Equitability and social responsibility;
- Multi-functionality and synergies;
- Engagement, collaboration and reflection.
Who we are
Our multi-disciplinary team includes expertise in (complex) systems analysis, modelling, agro-ecology, co-innovation, policy formation and immersive education. We uniquely combine a strong platform of simulation models with hands-on, empirical assessments of outstanding examples of sustainable farms and landscapes in all continents.
We develop innovative solutions together with a very wide and diverse network of research actors and external stakeholders. These include national, European and global research organisations (such as the CGIAR programmes), farmers, NGOs, industry and regional, national and EU policy makers. We lead and participate in a number of European Horizon 2020 projects, as well as numerous national and regional programmes.
Our research facilities include the COMPASS platform of simulation models and field experiments at the university experimental farm. In addition, we are developing a global outdoor laboratory and classroom through the creation of an international network of operational "lighthouse farms and foodscapes”: these are positive deviants in the real world that are frontrunners in terms of providing sustainably produced food and ecosystem services. This network demonstrates what can be achieved within the diversity of bio-physical and socio-economic solution spaces. We use Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to bring these farms inside our classrooms and modelling platforms.
We develop and deliver a wide range of courses for the WUR Masters in Organic Agriculture, for which we take the IFOAM Organic 3.0 strategy as our guide. We use the ASK approach, aimed at developing a combination of Attitude, Skills and Knowledge for each of our subjects. In each of our courses, we combine lectures with workshops, excursions, tutorials and students projects, resulting in immersive and integrated learning with “head, heart and hands”. We operate an FSE Ambassadorial Scheme for our MSc theses and internships, in which we equip our students with the skills required for an academic career. These include actor engagement and scientific writing skills: all our theses are written in the format of a scientific paper.