Partner news | Project news New online tool for farmers aims to bundle crop information from 200 crops.
With this initiative, the 10 project partners aim to unlock all available crop info in one user-friendly tool: the cultivation technical properties, yields, acreages, contents and marketing opportunities of at least 200 well-known and lesser-known crops.
Farmers and businesses will be able to quickly and easily request information around a specific crop and compare different crops based on self-entered criteria. Currently, that crop information is very fragmented. A first prototype of the online tool, which is being developed by ILVO together with other pilot and research centers, is expected by early 2024.The project aims to help stimulate the bio-economy in Flanders. By making available and recent information more accessible, the project partners want to encourage farmers to start up new crops.
After all, these 200 crops have potential in the Flemish bioeconomy, which no longer starts from fossil raw materials, but uses biomass of vegetable or animal origin as a basis.
The CropExplore for Farmers project builds on the research results from CropExplore and is coordinated by Flanders' FOOD. Project partners are Catalisti, ILVO, Inagro, Hogent, KU Leuven, PCG, Vives, Praktijkpunt Landbouw Vlaams-Brabant, Boerenbond.
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In a first phase, all stakeholders such as farmers, researchers, spearhead clusters and processing companies will be asked which parameters are important for them to include in this tool. Once the tool is up and running, we will aim for a wide distribution.
How can farmers start with a new crop?
A second major objective of the CropExplore for Farmers project is to get farmers excited about starting to grow bio-economy crops themselves.
Three test cases will put the spotlight on the potential of bioeconomy crops. In a first case, the cultivation of yacon will be optimized in terms of planting material, mechanization and storage. Processing into semi-finished products will also be further developed.
The second case works around hemp, which is already grown for its valuable long fibers. By also investigating the use of by-products such as hemp tops and shives, we want to strengthen the profitability of this crop.
In a third case, we will work with deder, also known as gold-of-pleasure, false flax or camelin. The optimization of the cultivation technique of this oilseed crop at field scale and the creation of marketing channels of the deder seed at pilot plants or companies will contribute to the production of new bio-based products. The deder and yacon test cases will be carried out within the Food Pilot at ILVO.
The role of the B2BE Facilitator, matchmaker in de bio-economy
From the questions asked of the B2BE Facilitator in 2022, 16% of those questions came from farmers looking for new crops. Finally, the project also came about from arable farmers' clear quest for crop diversification. In arable farming, in fact, only four regular crops account for 87% of the acreage.There are several new crops available in Flanders that have been the subject of much research in recent years. However, the acreage of these crops is still small and there are barriers preventing them from being launched in the Flemish landscape.
The Cropexplore for Farmers project can be the extra push these crops need. The project focuses primarily on Flemish arable farmers, this sector currently covers 207,000 ha or 6,399 farms and organic arable farming 1,314 ha or 112 organic farms.