Multi-species swards and intercrops for crop rotations benefits

Highly diverse multi-species leys have potential to show more resilience under changing environmental conditions than simple forage mixtures and monocultures. Multi-species swards with incorporated legumes stimulate productivity and stability of crop-ley rotations and each species comprising functional group have different roles in enhancing above- and belowground growth, earliness, and chemical composition.

The projected climate change trends show increase in extreme weather events, changes in precipitation patterns and temperature increase, highlighting the need for resilient production systems. At the same time, longer growing seasons and milder winters are likely to offer new possibilities for cultivation of new grass and legume species at high latitudes. Plant breeding has the potential to improve the characteristics of different species to cope with adverse environmental conditions and increase their overall growth, resulting in better compatibility with a wide range of plant companions.

The interaction of various factors influences productivity and sustainability. The management options of multispecies swards in crop rotation, grass and legumes breeding for sustainable agroecosystems (multi-species swards, specific traits of roots etc.) and broadening the knowledge about better integration of ley-pastures in cropping systems are important issues for researchers in different countries, thus presenting, a very good opportunity to share the experience in this session.