Research project Creating added value in organic agriculture through sustainable combinations of crops and free range for poultry

Complete Acronym: LEGCOMBIO

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Main research question

The aim of the LEGCOMBIO project is to investigate how a single parcel of agricultural land can be used more efficiently and sustainably through the thoughtful combination of perennial crops for the production of food, wood and/or biomass with a free-range for (organic) poultry. This project is now completed.

Research approach

1) A desk study (literature review & compiling user experiences) was performed on various aspects of mixed production systems (plant production for food, wood and/or biomass and animal prioduction of eggs or meat, soil and landscape, legislation, econmic feasibility,…).
2) A longitudinal experiment was done on improving range use by hens via adapted rearing or more appropriate vegetation in the range. Individual range use was correlated with the welfare of the hens, and the impact of the hens on the soil and on the productivity of two types of plant cultivation was investigated.
3) The mixed system was evaluated under commercial circumstances in a reversed starting position in which broiler chickens were introduced in an existing kiwi berry plantation. We investigated the effect of the environment and factors such as the position of the coop and the distance to drinkers on range use, weed pressure, crop damage and soil conditions.

Relevance/Valorization

This study has contributed to the realization of smart combinations of plant production in the free range of ckickens in order to use land more efficiently, to create better animal welfare and a smaller impact on the environment.