The objective of MULTISWARD is to support developments and innovations in grassland use and management in different European farming systems (including low-input and organic), pedoclimatic and socio-economic conditions i) to enhance the role of grasslands at farm and landscape levels to produce environmental goods and to limit the erosion of biodiversity and ii) to optimise economic, agronomic and nutritional advantages for the development of innovative and sustainable ruminant production systems.
To reach this overall objective, MULTISWARD will:
- Define the roles and utility of grassland at catchement and landscape levels from economic, agronomic and environmental perspectives and determine stakeholder’s requirements and expectations with respect to multi-functionality of grassland in EU countries.
- Assess the performance of multi-species swards (MSS) in terms of plant productivity and animal nutrition over a range of environments and determine the most appropriate mixtures according to the soil and climatic conditions.
- Optimize the role of MSS in the provision of regulating and supporting services and maintaining a high level of biodiversity.
- Design and evaluate innovations in grazing and animal management (including animal genetics) to enhance the sustainability and competitiveness of grassland-based ruminant production system.
- Provide adequate evaluation tools (indicators and models) to assess ways of combining high production efficiency with optimal provision of regulating and supporting services from grasslands at farm to regional levels.
- Identify and analyse the effects of several socio-economic and policy scenarios supporting grassland development or inducing grassland replacement by annual crops in order to support the design of future policies.
- Disseminate knowledge to key stakeholders (farmers and extension services, policymakers, water agencies, national offices for registration and seed control, feed industry, milk and meat food chains, consumers, nature conservation groups…) through a participatory framework that will allow exchanges between researchers and key stakeholders and increase awareness of grassland-based systems profits.