News June 2024

Participatory exploration of agro-ecological cereal cultivation

In the project 'Cereal farming with nature', researchers from INBO and ILVO, farmers, millers and bakers spent two years together investigating the agro-ecological cultivation of baking cereal on the grounds of the Hansbeke Agro-Ecology Trial Platform. The cooperation came about thanks to the Project Call 'Agriculture-Nature: in search of a win-win'.

During the first season, we compared crops on three conventional and three agroecological plots. We observed more biodiversity in the agroecological plots, but cereal production was higher in the conventional plots. The final income for the farmer was equivalent. The lower cost and better price for agroecological cereal compensated for the lower production.

During the second season, we compared 16 agroecologically grown old cereal varieties. The cereal was milled and baked into bread by the participants in a documented and identical way. The project ended with a taste test by 40 non-professional tasters. This showed that the loaves of bread made from agro-ecologically grown ancient cereals are not inferior to industrially baked bread of common varieties in terms of taste.

This project inspired several new projects, namely the PDPO project "Agro-ecological cereal for bread, beer, biodiversity and soil", the EIP project "Cereal-worthy" and the EIP project "Sheep grazing between nature and agriculture, towards a profitable and circular business model".

Myriam Dumortier

Read more: Bracke J., de Beer S., Debruyne F., De Bruyn L., Dumortier M., Willekens K. (2024). Graanboeren met natuur. Cocreatieve verkenning van de agro-ecologische teelt van baktarwe. Rapporten van het Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek 2024 (21). Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek, Brussel.


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