SLU news

Growing beyond monoculture - new film series

Published: 09 September 2020
Man measuring crops.

SLU has participated in the production of three films about how crop species mixtures can contribute to sustainable agriculture. This is a way for the international research project DIVERSify to share their findings with researchers, farmers, advisors, politicians and the general public.

”This is a great project since it connects ecology, agronomy and the whole supply chain in an almost ideal way. In addition, it is a fantastic group of people working together and a very good and responsive coordinator. That is crucial for successful research projects”, says Martin Weih, project leader at SLU together with Giulia Vico.

Big project

The goal of the project is to find plant teams, crop species mixtures, that perform well together. It could help us reduce crop pests and increase resilience. But it is a complex issue – there is great potential, but also a lot of challenges.

DIVERSify is a big project in many ways. It includes large parts of the world – the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Many people have worked on the project – 100 researchers and technicians at 23 research institutions and over 9000 farmers and other stakeholders.

Good stories and scientific balance

The films were made by a professional film team and the result is interesting, educative and beautiful. Martin was on the scientific advisory board for the films. He took part in the planning process and the selection of material for the three films. Because they wanted to find good stories and a balance that all participants could accept, this was a time-consuming process.

“As an example, some people thought that the films should focus on marketing crop mixtures as the solution for the future and that all more pessimistic viewpoints should be played down. Other people thought that it was more important to give a balanced picture of the pros and cons of crop mixtures”, explains Martin Weih.

Are you happy with the result?

”I think it is a good compromise and the films are representative of the different parts of the project. Maybe I would have wished that the films were less focused on marketing crop species mixtures but I can definitely live with the result.”

Growing beyond monoculture 

Episode 1 From the Ground Up

A look at the networked benefits mixed cropping offers - from agricultural productivity and resilience to conserving ecosystem services, the life support systems of our living planet.


Episode 2 Managing Complexity

If plant teams have benefits, why isn’t everyone using them? This episode explores the complexities plant teams introduce into the processes of growing food.


Episode 3 Cultivating Knowledge

Can we work through mixed cropping’s complexities? What are the innovations currently taking place to address the knowledge gaps and what challenges still remain?

Farmers, scientists and industry stakeholders are narrowing knowledge gaps as part of our project, but are you convinced that plant teams are part of the solution to deliver a sustainable food system for all?

Watch all the films here


Project participants

Many people at SLU participated in the project that will be finished during the spring. For example Martin Weih, Giulia Vico, James Ajal, Ortrud Jäck, Velemir Ninkovic, Ewa Magnuski och Herman Berghuijs (former postdoc).

Project DIVERSify:s webbsite

Follow DIVERSify på Facebook and Twitter


Martin Weih, Professor
Department of Crop Production Ecology, SLU 018-672543 

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