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project - Research and innovation

MIXED - Multi-actor and transdisciplinary development of efficient and resilient MIXED farming and agroforestry systems
MIXED - Multi-actor and transdisciplinary development of efficient and resilient MIXED farming and agroforestry systems

Ongoing | 2020 - 2024 Denmark
Ongoing | 2020 - 2024 Denmark
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MIXED supports the development of European Mixed Farming and Agroforestry Systems (MiFAS) that optimize efficiency and resource use, reduce GHG emissions, and show greater resilience to climate change by considering agronomic, technical, environmental, economic, institutional, infrastructure and social advantages and constraints. The project will assess impacts of MiFAS at farm, landscape and value chains level, in collaboration with networks of farmers, and support the transition to MiFAS through farmer-to-farmer exchange of knowledge and decision support at farm and policy level.


see objectives in English


• Co-creation of knowledge and innovations for enhanced Mixed Farming and Agroforestry Systems (MiFAS)
• Development of efficient and resilient MiFAS and assessment of effects of MiFAS on environment, climate change resilience and other ecosystem services
• Decision-support for MiFAS to ease farmers’ transition to MiFAS
• Estimations at multiple scales of consequences of the introduction of MiFAS for the development of supporting policies
• Communication of MiFAS and dissemination of project results


MIXED explores the benefits of mixed farming and agroforestry systems (MiFAS) to climate, environment, and society in general and support the further development of such systems. The assumption is that MiFAS have the potential to be both efficient and resilient and at the same time and provide eco-system services for the benefit of society and the environment. The different networks (organic and conventional farmers) have different knowledge and experience that others can benefit from. In MIXED, we create the opportunity for farmers to learn from each other and for researchers to learn from and generate new knowledge from undertaking research together with farmers. The project works with these groups of farmers and develop networks across Europe covering a wide range of different mixed agricultural and agroforestry systems. Joint activities between researchers and farmers will create valuable scientific knowledge about the methods and systems, how best to facilitate a wider take-up of MiFAS across Europe and how policies can support this.
MiFAS come in many shapes and dimensions – operating within a field, a farm, between farms or even in an entire landscape or food-chain. The concept aims at optimizing the use of resources through collaboration and diversified production (crops, trees, animals) where the different enterprises benefit from each other. Resources can be used more efficiently in MiFAS, for example, by using crops, grasslands and woody vegetation to feed and shelter animals and fertilise fields with manure from the animals, as well as provide benefits such as sequester carbon in the system and improve biodiversity.

Additional comments

Who: MIXED consists of 19 partners from 10 different EU countries, with Aarhus University, Department of Agroecology in Denmark, as the coordinator of the project. MIXED is using a multi-actor approach whereby various stakeholders will be involved throughout the project. 
Where: MIXED involves 10 networks of farmers that practice or are in the process of transforming to MiFAS across Europe, including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and United Kingdom.
What: Systems such as different forms of organic and non-organic agroforestry, land/manure/nutrients as well as grazing exchange between arable and livestock farmers, (re)wetting of arable land in livestock arable land exchange and agrotourism are all represented in the MIXED networks.
When: The project duration is from October 2020 and 4 years onwards.

Additional information

MIXED involves networks of farmers that practice or are in the process of transforming to MiFAS. Systems such as different forms of organic and non-organic agroforestry, land/manure/nutrients as well as grazing exchange between arable and livestock farmers, (re)wetting of arable land in livestockarable land exchange and agrotourism are all represented in the MIXED networks.

€ 6999508

Total budget

Total contributions including EU funding.



    Project coordinator


    Project partner

  • FiBL, Switzerland

    Project partner

  • Aberystwyth University

    Project partner

  • Wageningen University

    Project partner

  • SRUC, UK

    Project partner

  • INRAE, France

    Project partner

  • IUNG-PIB, Poland

    Project partner

  • Institute of Agricultural Economics, Romania

    Project partner

  • Innovation Centre for Organic Farming (ICOEL)

    Project partner

  • AGROOF, France

    Project partner

  • CONSULAI, Portugal

    Project partner

  • ISA-UL, Portugal

    Project partner

  • SAOS, UK

    Project partner

  • IFLS, Germany

    Project partner

  • FSK Juchowo, Poland

    Project partner

  • ARGE Donaumoss, Germany

    Project partner

  • Hochstamm Suisse, Switzerland

    Project partner

  • GAL-TP, Romania

    Project partner

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27 Practice Abstracts

Changeable weather patterns, including flooding and droughts, over recent years have raised Scottish farmers’ interest in sourcing alternative forage options beyond their usual grazing and silage land. Over the last 5 or 6 years, a number of arable farms in Scotland have linked up with graziers to try this approach. Winter cereals appear very resilient to being hard grazed by sheep and recover well, with experience so far showing little adverse impact on yields or crop and soil characteristics. Grazing does need to be undertaken early enough to limit potential damage to crop growing points, the latest successful experience we have is having finished grazing by mid-March. Winter cereals have been intensively “mob” grazed over a few days, or more extensively grazed over several weeks or even months. This has been done on crops that have variously been sown early, specifically to graze them early (pre-Christmas), or to hold back forward crops that were sown at typical drilling dates by grazing in the New Year. All approaches seem to work well with no obvious downsides reported. A trustworthy relationship between the arable farmer and the grazier will need to be developed, and any financial criteria agreed. Winter wheat, barley and oats have all shown excellent feed value profiles. Some Network farmers grazing their winter cereals with sheep report reductions in seed rates and N fertilizer usage and others indicate lower disease levels with potential to reduce fungicide use.

High-stem cultivation combines ecology and native fruit production in a living system, thus contributing to the diversity and ecology of the cultural landscape and to the economic viability of high trunk cultivation. A Swiss network (Hochstamm Suisse) was formed in 2000, in collaboration with environmental NGOs, but relies heavily on engagement by its farmer members to remain financially viable and to achieve its stated goals. Continuing engagement is dependent on giving a voice to the farmers in the network, which leads to feelings of ownership. Within the MIXED project, several lessons have been learned which might be applied in similar networks seeking to engage, include, and give feelings of ownership to their members.The chosen strategy was to invite members of the network to participatory activities: In this case a back-casting ( workshop and a workshop to establish a dynamic learning agenda (…), although other participatory methods could have been equally effective. The key to the success of the network consolidation was in the selection of highly active and visible participants with strong and varied opinions. In this way it is expected that the opinions of more moderate people are covered as well, assuming that nothing would be said that doesn’t anyway come up in discussion between the people with the strong opinions. The moderate network members thereby gain feelings of ownership and inclusion, while the selected participants not only act as delegates but also as multipliers.

In Romania, MIXED collaborates with a group of farmers from the LAG Tinutul Posadelor territory. The farms are small holdings that traditionally are mixed systems with fruit trees, animals, pastures, hayfields and wild natural landscapes. However, these mixed farms are struggling to maintain profitability and are tempted to become more specialised with the consequence of losing the diversity of landscapes, biodiversity, and nature protection.Given the beauty of the area with the mixed system in hills and mountains and various tourist attractions, agri-touristic farms and boarding houses have developed in the area lately, creating a demand for both local fresh products, and traditional specialties of on-farm processed fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat products.With support from LAG-TP and inputs from IEA-AR and the MIXED project, the farmers are aiming to find solutions for improving the valorization of local agri-food products though agritourism and local processing micro-industry. There might be expected also a spillover effect from the production of more diversified high value products for agritourism local consumption to markets outside the area. However, for this to develop, branding and organization among farmers and value chain actors are necessary. The main lesson learned is that on-farm tourism activities support the mixedness and viability of the local farms, while improving and diversifying the valorisation of local agri-food products.The challenge is to find solutions for implementation of an integrated economic system, that would bring together agritourism, mixed farming and local agrifood processing, that should meet economic, ecological, social and cultural criteria for sustainable development of the area

In our study, we emphasized the collaborative management of two Montado farms and a third farm engaged in forage and traditional olive orchard production. One of the Montado farms specializes in sheep production alongside cork harvesting, while the other focuses on cattle production, cork harvesting, and pig fattening. To enhance sustainability and economic performance, the cattle farm transitioned away from nitrogen fertilizers, opting instead for legume pastures complemented by phosphate fertilizers and dolomite limestone application. Additionally, resource-sharing initiatives among the farms, facilitated by their joint management, contributed to improved economic and environmental outcomes through:• Market Diversification: Explore diversified marketing strategies, including local markets, direct sales, or niche markets for sustainably produced livestock products.• Climate Resilience: Given the challenges posed by climate change, invest in water management and tree regeneration efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability of Montado.• Community Engagement: Engage with local communities and organizations to collaborate on initiatives that enhance the resilience and sustainability of Montado farms. This can include knowledge and resources-sharing and joint conservation efforts.By implementing these recommendations and building on the existing resource-sharing initiatives, Montado farms can work towards increased sustainability, profitability, and resilience in the face of evolving environmental and economic challenges.

In our study, we emphasized the collaborative management of two Montado farms and a third farm engaged in forage and traditional olive orchard production. One of the Montado farms specializes in sheep production alongside cork harvesting, while the other focuses on cattle production, cork harvesting, and pig fattening. To enhance sustainability and economic performance, the cattle farm transitioned away from nitrogen fertilizers, opting instead for legume pastures complemented by phosphate fertilizers and dolomite limestone application. Additionally, resource-sharing initiatives among the farms, facilitated by their joint management, contributed to improved economic and environmental outcomes through:• Diversification of Forage Crops: Cultivation of a variety of forage crops, well-suited to the region, can help increase pasture biomass for both sheep and cattle. Reducing the need for external forage purchases.• Optimize Livestock Mix: Adjusting the livestock mix on the cattle farm to better match available pasture resources. Integrating livestock breeds that pose a lower risk for soil erosion.• Alternative Revenue Streams: Identify alternative revenue streams that can complement livestock production, such as agritourism or the sale of sustainably harvested cork products.• Sustainable Land Management: Such as rotational grazing and soil conservation measures, to optimize forage production.By implementing these recommendations and building on the existing resource-sharing initiatives, Montado farms can work towards increased sustainability, profitability, and resilience in the face of evolving environmental and economic challenges.

The Portuguese partners have organized several workshops with their network of Montado producers in Portugal. During these workshops, farmers identified their main current problems and also the solutions to address them.For mitigation of the consequences of climate change that are contributing to the decline of the Montado, there are some recommendations:- Better management that comes from providing farmers with knowledge to better use their land, for example, less soil mobilization, planting trees in order to help with natural regeneration of the trees- Providing payment for ecosystem services or financing for Eco regimens and by valuing the value chainFor a second problem “How can we prevent and stops pests in the Montado?”, the recommendations are:- Having a well-managed Montado allows for a healthy system, therefore less susceptible to pests and diseases. Preventing is more important than eradicating.- Providing farmers with knowledge and technical support- Having alarm systems that help detect pests and diseases early on- Work on biodiversity- Homologation of plant protection productsThe decline of the Montado system can be stopped by: improving the fertilization and the soil quality and regeneration and maintenance practices.

In Poland MIXED is engaged with the Stanisław Karłowski Foundation, a foundation which is at the core of Juchowo Village Project that runs the acreage of a former state farm now as organic and biodynamic. To improve soil and growing conditions trees and bushes are planted as windbreaks and hedges – to stop erosion and drying out of soil. In times of climate change and unreliable rainfall, this has become important to maintain productivity on the farm. Producing own seedlings to save costs and careful management to ensure that hard work is not wasted are simple but useful methods. Lessons learned to be share are:For growing seedlings, you need:• a little space (it can be any size, depending on how much space you have at your disposal, and how many trees or bushes you want to grow),• seeds which you can either collect yourself from the wild or purchase at your local forestry center,• a simple method for irrigating the seeds. This can be a perforated hose, connected to a canister or water tap.• time - after giving the seedlings some time to grow (mostly 2years, depending on the species), you can take the young trees from your tree nursery and plant them where you want them in the field.When seedlings are planted, it is important to consider:• young trees will need protection against animals and browsing by circling them with nets.• make sure the seedlings will have sufficient access to water (this may be by nature, if your site is moist enough, or by irrigating them by hoses or water bags.)Most of the items that need to be purchased, like nets, canisters or water bags, can be reused, which makes an on farm tree nursery a low cost activity for the benefit of the farm.

The idea of the chicken forest - implemented by Hof Hartmann in Rettmer - demonstrates the combination of agroforestry and chicken farming: mobile chicken coops offer outdoor access for grazing and feeding, but also a safe place during the night and for laying eggs. Together with grassland, the agroforestry strips of poplars, willows and also berry bushes planted in 2016 provide a species-appropriate habitat for the chickens. The journey was a continuous learning process, leading to the addition of shade trees, inland fences, and the understanding that the chickens prefer grass to a certain length. In its current form, the chicken forest offers the animals plenty of space and protection from birds, wind, and sun. The trees improve the soil and microclimate, and the various shrubs and berries are a welcome change on the chickens' menu. Studies conducted as part of a citizen science approach by the agroforest-monitoring team of the University of Münster also show positive effects on biodiversity, from honey and wild bees to ground beetles, robins, and other birds as well as bats. Animal welfare is the primary focus of the chicken forest (cattle and alpacas also graze in the agroforestry system). The interaction of farmer, citizen scientists, agroforestry and chickens gradually creates a "symbiosis of man and nature".As part of the MIXED project, a demo field day took place in cooperation with Hof Hartmann and the agroforst-monitoring team. The entire conception, elaboration, and implementation as well as any rights lie with Hof Hartmann and agroforst-monitoring. or

A team from the University of Münster developed a citizen science approach for monitoring agroforestry systems. Their aim is to encourage cooperation between agriculture, science and civil society and jointly generate new knowledge. A crucial role herein assumes civil society by involving volunteers in scientific activities - irrespective of their prior knowledge. With the approach being particularly practical, citizen scientists and farmers communicate intensively, enabling on-site studies to be adapted to the agricultural management cycles. This creates cooperation at eye level. Moreover, the joint learning is central in understanding different points of view, be it with regard to livestock and plants, farming methods and decisions or biodiversity.The advantages are obvious: on the one hand, the generation of important data on agroforestry systems. On the other hand, the sensitisation of all stakeholders to each other's concerns leads to a joint dialogue in order to develop solutions for existing challenges.The MIXED project supported the agroforestry monitoring approach, which explicitly is not a project outcome. The entire conception, elaboration, and implementation as well as any rights rest with the University of Münster and agroforest-monitoring.For more information, see here:

In the Swabien Donaumoos region, known for its extensive peatlands and wetlands, a sustainable farming revolution is underway. Livestock, particularly robust cattle breeds, play a pivotal role in this transformation.Extensive grazing, allowing cattle to roam freely in these natural landscapes, is becoming a leading method to manage wetland ecosystems sustainably. It promotes biodiversity, enhances soil health, and curbs invasive plant species, all while sequestering carbon – a climate-friendly agricultural approach.In Donaumoos, extensive grazing with robust cattle breeds is a cornerstone of maintaining protected natural areas. This practice supports unique flora and fauna while aiding climate mitigation.Donaumoos stands out for opening approximately 100 hectares of protected natural areas for cattle grazing. This innovative strategy exemplifies the region's commitment to balancing agriculture and conservation. It addresses the dual challenges of food production and ecosystem preservation in the face of climate change.A cooperative community of eight young farmers will try to gain a sustainable way of extensive farming. Their pasture-sharing approach fosters a sense of responsibility and collaboration, ensuring wetlands are stewarded for future generations. They harmonize agriculture with environmental and conservation goals, promoting wetland preservation.Donaumoos demonstrates how livestock integration into wetland farming can merge agriculture and conservation effectively. Through extensive grazing, the region contributes to both climate protection and nature conservation. This example underscores the importance of preserving critical habitats.

Transformation to wetland farming farming can be of great important for the climate and environment, but can be difficult for individual farmers. It takes time to establish a viable system, develop marketing channels for the crops or develop processing and/or value chains that can ensure a stable income for the farmers.In Donaumoos, farmers are advancing wetland farming with paludiculture and extensive grazing. Paludiculture involves cultivating adapted wetland plants, eliminating the need for soil cultivation, fertilizers, and pesticides. Additionally, sedges and reed canary grass are processed into building materials. Young farmers have formed a community to promote extensive grazing, aiding wetland conservation. Government support aims to establish a local production facility, creating market opportunities and motivating eco-friendly peatland management.Recommendations based on the expereince from Donaumoos:• Utilize Support Programs: Farmers and landowners should benefit from initiatives like the "Peat-farmer-program" in Bavaria, Germany, promoting arable land conversion into grassland or paludiculture. These offer financial incentives and guidance for sustainable practices.• Government Backing for Rewetting: Vital for climate protection and paludiculture, EU member states should:• Establish a framework for traditional farmers to become climate-conscious "Peat-Climate Farmers," recognizing it as a new agricultural profession.• Provide long-term support to ensure economic viability on rewetted peatlands, with fair compensation for climate protection efforts.• Simplify administrative procedures for peatland climate protection, possibly through a modern peatland conservation law.

Farmers in Donaumoos in Germany are working with rewetting of cultivated land and peatland. The wetland farming (paludiculture) is driven by the desire to protect carbon rich soild, increase carbon sequestration, and increase ecosystem services such as bidiversity and water quality AND at the same time create a financially vaible and resilience mixed farming system.Wetland crops can be used in various applications, from producing furniture boards and insulation materials to creating organic packaging. For many farmers, paludiculture provides an opportunity to diversify their income sources as it opens up new markets and revenue streams. This can reduce dependency on single crops and enhance overall resilience to economic fluctuations.However, to make paludiculture economically viable, local processing facilities should be established. In Donaumoos In Donaumoos, sedges and reed canary grass have been processed into various building panels and insulation materials. Additionally, they can be utilized for making pellets or pressed into fence posts mixed with plastic. Particularly, the production of grass building panels has garnered significant interest from the construction industry, and there are already buyers in the region. However, it's important to note that these are currently only test runs, and mass production has not yet begun. With the support of local government and the Ministry of the Environment, efforts are being made to establish a production facility in the region. This initiative aims to create a market for farmers and motivate them to transition to paludiculture and thereby adopt environmentally friendly peatland management practices.

MIXED collaborates with a network of farmers in Germany who are working with wetland farming (also called paludiculture) in Donaumoos. This innovative approach offers a mixed farming system (rewetting with agriculture) with a multitude of benefits, both in terms of climate protection, resource utilization and conservations of wetlands and peatlands as ecosystems. It represents a crucial strategy in the fight against climate change and the conservation of these invaluable ecosystems.The experience from Donaumoos underlines that unlike conventional agriculture, where crops like wheat or corn can be planted and harvested within a single growing season, paludiculture demands patience and persistence. Our test plots took about two years for wetland crops to establish themselves and suppress unwanted weeds. This initial period requires careful management to ensure the success of the wetland crops.Paludiculture involves the cultivation of specially adapted wetland plants. In Donaumoos a farmer has planted sedges and cattailsThese species are planted in waterlogged and peat-rich areas. To achieve this, the drainage ditches were dammed, and the areas were additionally irrigated with solar pumps. For establishment, overseeding and multiple manual weed removals were necessary. Once paludiculture has established itself, neither soil cultivation, fertilization, nor the use of pesticides is necessary. Furthermore, a dense root system has developed, allowing conventional agricultural machinery to operate on the wetlands.

Agroforestry systems for pig farms represent 1% of pig farms in France. But under social and policy pressure, the obligation of free-range becomes more and more present in certified productions. But a single pasture without tree poses different questions in terms of resilience: lack of animal protection, problem of soil erosion, lack of intrinsic forage resources… All farmers are concerned by the problem of protecting trees in the presence of pigs, whatever the density of pigs by hectare. It also concerns all kind of trees: young trees plantation or mature trees, alone, in hedge or in clump. During the project, we realised some surveys in different regions and tested some new kinds of protection, such as the Cactus Protector, produced by a Spanish enterprise. all farmers are concerned by the problem of protecting trees in the presence of pigs. The cost depends of the fence size. A fence height of 70 cm seems sufficient, but with a circumference of 1m60 for young trees at least. It cost less than 10 euros but you have to add the stems (3 units). For the mature trees, a height of 40 cm could be enough to protect the bark.

In a free-range system, pigs graze wherever they want, exploring the soil through their digging activity. Without a ring, the floor is very quickly turned over and laid bare. Within the association of Baron des Cévennes, and more generally in the traditional systems observed in France, pig loads fluctuate between 20 and 30 pigs per hectare. From the first rains, the soil turns into mud.Various solutions are then considered and being tested with farmers:- increase the area under extensive grazing, via agreement with neighbouring owners. This agreement requires technical specifications to reassure the owners and find a financial or sharecropping remuneration. For the owner, the advantage is the maintenance of the land, to prevent the fire risk and a reduction in the cost of maintenance now obligatory. For the breeder, this reduces the pressure on his plots and also diversifies the feeding of animals (acorns, chest nuts, etc). The cost of fence has to be taken into account. It could represent 750 € of materials (fence, metal posts, barbed wire and fixation wire) for 100 meters.- install a ring in the noose to avoid a high level of soil degradation. Breeders engaged in this practice, sometimes criticized in biological certifications, are often satisfied with the animal welfare caused by a meadow with permanent grass.- remove pigs from pastures to building during the winter months. By putting the pigs in the shelter just after the acorns, the breeder thus avoids grazing in periods too wet in winter and it comes out the animals in spring.The third solution is probably the most effective solution. While it’s quite possible to combine all three.

The reintegration of livestock into crop farms is presented as a favorable solution for the spread of agroecology. But this return has a series of direct (e.g. on labor) and indirect (e.g. on subsidies) impacts that need to be anticipated. What are the key factors to consider when reintegrating livestock into crop farms?- The priority objectives associated with this reintegration (e.g. a new source of income vs. livestock manure for fertilization),- Outlets for reintegrated livestock products in short or long chains, depending on local operators,- subsidies made possible by the reintroduction of livestock,- Impact on the organization, workload and nature of work,- Investments required by the presence of a livestock operation (e.g. fencing, drinking troughs),- The presence of input and service suppliers (e.g. veterinarians) associated with the livestock operation,- regulatory constraints associated with the joint management of crops and livestock (e.g. the removal of animals from fields before harvest periods),- Availability of the knowledge needed to manage livestock operations,- The presence of professional networks (e.g. technical advisors, farmers' groups) linked to livestock farming.Based on these elements, it is easier to determine the project for reintegrating livestock into a crop farm, be it the species and breed concerned, management and marketing methods, or how this reintegration will be carried out, by adding a production on the farm, or in collaboration with a breeder by temporarily hosting animals on the farm.

In Ariège, South-western France, crop-livestock integration between neighbouring farms appears as a promising option for farmers to limit synthetic fertilizer use while relocalising animal feed. Farmers have tried to develop buy-sell scenarios of grain. Doing so, they faced logistic and regulatory barriers that ended up discouraging them. Thus, some farmers re-explored the historical «inverted transhumance», i.e. moving animals from the mountains to graze grassland and cover crops in the valleys and plains in fall and winter.A 1st example is a corn seed producer growing an oat-vetch cover crop on 82 ha, grazed during 2 winter months by 100 sheep of a mountain farmer, located 80 km away. The latter saves about 8 K€ per year (10 K€ savings on indoor winter feeding of the sheep for 60 days out of which 2 K€ are spent for driving every day to the crop farm to move fences). A high productivity of the sheep was observed due to the high quality of fodder and less parasitism and foot rot. For the crop farmer, cover crop destruction is avoided while an improvement of 16% of corn seed yield is observed due to a quicker mineralisation of nutrients following the grazed cover crop.In the 2nd example, another farmer moves 130 sheep and baby sheep to four different farms, e.g. an apple-tree farm, two crop farms where sheep graze cover crops and volunteer wheat and a crop-livestock farm. On this latter farm with cattle, sheep proceed to pasture topping and graze earlier with lower compaction risk than cattle. The sheep farmer saves 30 tons of hay and 9 tons of concentrates a year.A trustful collaboration and planification are key to make these plans work as the crop farmer may need to check the animals and the livestock farmer should adapt to the crop farmer’s practices and needs.

In one of the MIXED farmer networks in Denmark, 11 farmers are managing livestock and farmland in the vicinity of streams flowing into the shallow and nutrient vulnerable waters of Limfjorden - an inland fjord system connected to the sea. Reduction of nitrate leaching from agriculture is required to improve the aquatic conditions in Limfjorden.The network consist of a mix of pig and dairy farms with crop production, small-holder farms, and arable farms. The farmland soils are dominated by sandy soils with varying clay content. 90 % of the farmland is cultivated with arable crops mainly winter wheat, spring barley, winter oilseed rape, and maize and 8 % is cultivated as grassland mostly concentrated on the dairy farms.Network farmers are already aware of the importance of reducing nitrate leaching. Farmers have widely adapted the use of biogas plants and a targeted use of catch crops to improve nutrient utilization and reduce nitrate leaching.There is a need for a joint effort among farmers to find viable solutions addressing the environmental issue of nitrate leaching in the region. We recommend that farmers discuss the issue together and consider the potential for in collaboration cultivating more grassland targeted to areas with the lowest groundwater nitrogen retention. In addition, farmers should discuss their willingness to cooperate on a local biorefinery of green biomass coupled with grasslands and a biogas plant. We also advice farmers to reflect on integration of crop and livestock production, exchange of resources between farmers (e.g. nutrients, knowledge, machinery, farmland, and livestock), and inclusion of other relevant stakeholders to improve nutrient management.

Farmers in the MIXED network in Denmark have tried out Agroforestry in large-scale organic pig production. The trees were planted in rows in paddocks for lactating sows. The farmers’ aim of establishing an agroforestry system was mainly to improve the conditions for pigs as well as wildlife. Besides improving animal welfare, other aspects were also important for the farmers such as potential improvements of biodiversity, carbon sequestration, nutrient recycling, and farm economy.When evaluating the agroforestry system, the farmers consider the trees as very beneficial for animal welfare. The pigs use the trees for thermoregulation, and the farmers report fewer problems with heat stress. The trees create good habitats for wildlife and the farmers have seen an increase in e.g., partridges and hares – thus the increased on-farm heterogeneity has been a benefit for biodiversity. Furthermore, the farmers find that the agroforestry system improves the aesthetics on the farm.Regarding which tree species to plant, the farmers have good experience with poplar, cherry plum, spruce, and aronia, which appear to be robust in systems with outdoor pigs on the locations in Denmark.Main Recommendations from the practice:1 – Select species of trees and bushes robust towards pigs and adapted to the climatic conditions on the farm.2 – Protect the trees in the first years after establishment from weed, mice, rabbits, hares, and deer e.g., with Spiral tree guard and Weed barrier rings.3 – Fence off the trees for the first 4-5 years to avoid the sows destroying the trees. The piglets can get access after two years.

Due to the high specialization, permanent crops are rarely combined with animal husbandry and the organic approach of mixed and circular farming was displaced. The vegetation underneath the fruit trees is normally not used and offers an excellent source of food for e.g. so called Apple Hens. For interested farmers an Apple Hen Handbook is available in German and English (…).Following experiences and interim practice results can be provided for interested farmers:• Animals have needs different from those of permanent crops - be aware to become a livestock AND fruit farmer.• Take care in advance to provide an animal-friendly stable - examples for small mobile stables can be read up in the Apple Hen Handbook.• Clarify who is responsible for the Apple Hens and the daily work.• Use spent laying hens for a second production cycle, their needs are easily met in a low-intensity husbandry system. Organic spent hens are often available locally at low cost.• Identify marketing channels (also for eggs that do not meet external quality standards, e.g., too thin shell) in time to establish a herd size in coordination with the sales volume (including own use).• Potential application of copper in low dosages in the orchards do not affect egg quality.• Be aware of potential obstacles from marketing guidelines for specific marketing channels which regulate animal husbandry within permanent crops (due to the direct application of manure by the animals). Experience shows that small scale flocks (up to 350 hens) are not considered as commercial livestock husbandry and are accepted.

In Denmark, MIXED is working with a subgroup of 8-15 farmers, practicing a mix of livestock and crop production, situated in a watershed with shallow estuaries and groundwater reservoirs for drinking water extraction, vulnerable to nitrogen leaching (168,000 Ha), where farmers are required to reduce the nitrate leaching significantly. Together with MIXED they will investigate ways of doing that with focus on a new biorefinery technology combined with biogas production and sustainable grassland management.
The bio-refinery technology can transform grass to a high-quality protein, e.g. to be used for a growing organic pig and poultry production (SuperGrassPork) independent of imported soybean based protein, and with two by-products - a fibre-pulp for ruminant fodder, and a ‘juice’ that can also be used for biogas production and bio-based fertilisers for fodder and cash crops. The group of farmers are part of a larger initiative – a collaboration between Aarhus University, local municipalities, farmers and bio-based industries, with the objective to support local food production, a more circular economy, and at the same time protect environment and reduce climate impacts.
It is expected that MIXED will help farmers to reduce the nitrate leaching, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing efficiency as well as resilience by reducing the areas with cereals and replace it with grass and clover grass for a more diverse range of products, and other types of land use. Thereby it can serve as an enabler for a more sustainable agricultural production, including potentials for more organic farming, and a more diverse agricultural landscapes.
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In Portugal the MIXED project is implemented by ISA-UL, CONSULAI and a network of farmers practicing Mixed Farming and Agroforestry Systems, in particular the Montado, a UNESCO protected Mediterranean mixed system, comprising agroforestry activities and extensive livestock production. The Montado system is dominated by scattered oak trees (Q. suber, Q. ilex, Q. rotundifolia), associated with pastures, forages, or feed crops. The livestock (beef cattle, sheep, goats and/or pigs) is characterised by low stocking rates, adapted to the poor soils and unfavourable climate conditions.
Farmers joined the MIXED network in Portugal with a motivation of sharing experiences and improving their practices. Climate change and soil degradation, as well as poor crop management practices, have opened the floor to the decline of the Montado, due to low organic matter contents, soil erosion, and the proliferation of pests. A new paradigm is required to adapt to climate change, while ensuring the economic viability and environmental sustainability of the farms. The PT network aims at restoring and modernising the Montado ecosystem, by working in collaboration with farmers, researchers, policymakers and other stakeholders. The main objective is to find solutions for the future and develop more sustainable management practices, with the interests of stakeholders at all levels of the value chain.
The network integrates 15 farms, with over 20.000 hectares of farmland in the Alentejo region, south of Portugal. The aim is to share experiences and improve practices to be both efficient and resilient, increasing economic returns and providing eco-system services for the benefit of society and the environment. Read more:

The project, MIXED, has developed a supportive guide - the Handbook of indicators - to be used in the collection of farm level data across all work areas in MIXED.
The list of indicators in the Handbook includes basic agronomic and environmental indicators, and indicators developed to measure integration from the point of view of the farming system. The indicators and data collection points described in the Handbook addresses soil, crop, livestock, environmental impacts, economics, social aspects, the position of farmers in respective value chains and efficiency and resilience of Mixed farming and agroforestry systems (MiFAS). 
The process of making the Handbook of indicators
Indicators of resilience and efficiency at farm level were collected and discussed among the researchers responsible for analysing mixed farming systems in the project. After extending this into a first list of indicators among the authors - the list was discussed, refined, and prioritized according to relevance for efficiency and resilience of MIFAS and the needs of project partners. 
The Handbook is a base for data collection in MIXED
The Handbook is not a full and completely comprehensive list of any indicators you might think about, it is a base for data collection. In many cases there will be a need for adaptation to the individual MiFAS situation - each MIFAS has its own specificities and additional indicators may be necessary. 
Read the full description of "Handbook of indicators and methodology for assessing changes in system functioning, farm management for efficiency and resilience”:

In the MIXED project, a framework is needed to give a general context to all the activities, including participatory workshops, data collections, and modelling. The framework includes conceptual tools for studying the transition to Mixed Farming and Agroforestry Systems (MiFAS) and for assessing its performance. Transition to improved MiFAS is expected to be key to climate-change adaptation and to promote farming systems not only merely focused on food production, but also on other ecosystem services, while being financially attractive, efficient in resource use, and resilient to fluctuating environmental and socio-economic conditions. Assessing the performance of a MiFAS is an important condition for promoting and guiding its transition, therefore, the MIXED framework provides ways of assessing environmental, economic, and social aspects, along with aspects related to resilience and efficiency. First, the framework defines the concept of ‘mixedness’ at different levels: farm, landscape, value chain, country, Europe. Thereafter, it explains
• The transition to MiFAS at all levels along with barriers and enables to transition
• The concepts of sustainability, efficiency, and resilience.
The framework may be adapted and applied to other projects or initiatives that address transformation to more efficient and resilient production systems in complex, multidisciplinary and multidimensional system.
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The project MIXED has completed an initial introductory review of research projects and the wider literature on the topic of mixed farming and agroforestry in Europe.
The result of this thorough literature study is a comprehensive catalogue, which can be used as a go-to resource for the further work in the MIXED project. The catalogue can also be used as a solid starting point by other projects within mixed farming and agroforestry as a field of research.
The present catalogue contains a database of literature bibliography of 882 records and a Project Matrix of 52 projects and their focus areas. Even though the content of the database is comprehensive, the catalogue cannot be considered as a complete list.
A point worth paying attention to when reviewing the existing literature, is that mixed farming and agroforestry is a very broad concept and the complexity surrounding its definition can pose challenges on the selection between what is included and what is not. As an example, organic farming systems often are within the definition of a mixed system but may not identify themselves as such. For that reason, there may be further relevant research projects that are not included in the present catalogue – not because such research projects were discarded, but because of differences in terminology and categorisation and therefore may not have been identified.
Furthermore, 22 projects from France were discarded from the analysis, because the dissemination of the research projects were not available in English, which highlights another potential barrier for knowledgebase sharing in the broad field of mixed farming and agroforestry.
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To develop an understanding of the current state of mixed farming in Europe a participatory back casting approach was implemented in the MIXED project to identify possible transition pathways to future sustainable mixed farming systems. “Back casting” sets targets at a future date based on expert judgment, best available technologies, and other factors, with technical pathways subsequently developed for achieving those targets by working backwards in time towards the present. It is a problem-solving approach which enables stakeholders to set priorities, rank solutions and identify steps that need to be taken (and when) to reach desired outcomes.
The back casting workshops were conducted in all 10 countries participating in the MIXED project. In total 13 workshops took place in the UK (Scotland), Austria, France (2), Germany (2), Denmark (2), Portugal, Poland, Switzerland, Romania, and The Netherlands.
The following six broad themes of challenges were identified from the workshop outputs: 
• Technical issues 
• Knowledge and skills
• Farm business
• Supply chain
• Policy
• Cultural challenges
Each of these individual challenges is further divided into sub-categories. The full report and overview of categories can be found here: 
Outputs from the back casting workshops are extremely important for not only providing context for the development of mixed farming and agroforestry in Europe but they also provide alternative future pathways and scenarios for testing in the various activities in MIXED.

In the MIXED project, the hypothesis is that the development of more Mixed Farming and Agroforestry Systems (MiFAS) is key to delivering multiple needs. Researchers, advisors and farmers will work together with other actors in the rural environment to demonstrate this in selected collaborative networks of farmers in 10 countries across Europe, serving as showcases for successful implementation of MiFAS. 
Multi-actor approach: In each of the 10 countries the project is implemented by a national team of researchers, a network coordinator (NGO, farmers’ organization, or consultancy), and a network/group of farmers practicing. Project activities aimed at developing MiFAS involves research pilots at farm level as well as landscape level and value chains. Furthermore, the activities aimed at developing decision support for farm level as well as policy level will in the process address stakeholders at multiple levels.
Participatory approach: Co-creation of knowledge and innovations is fundamental in MIXED. The project involves a series of workshops with the networks of farmers focussed on bottlenecks and solutions. Through the workshops small-scale action research projects supporting the development and implementation of MiFAS will be identified and implemented by farmers.
Farmer-to-farmer dissemination: To facilitate that the knowledge generated by farmers will be made available to other farmers, the national teams will document this in videos, photos and storytelling made available at the project website and through various social media as well as through field days and stakeholder workshops.
Read more on co-creation of knowledge and innovation in MIXED: