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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Identification and description of relationships between actors involved in crop diversification experiences across Europe

Cornu, Marie-Aline; Frick, Rebekka; Chongtham, Iman Raj; Iocola, Ileana; Canali, Stefano; Colombo, Luca; Radzikowski, Pawel; Stalenga, Jaroslaw; Viguier, Loic; Drexler, Dora; Schneider, Anne; Stilmant, Didier; Vanwindekens, Frederic M.


Agriculture can benefit from crop diversification to facilitate its transition to more sustainable agrifood systems. However, these practices remain rare in Europe. One major barrier is the existence of sociotechnical lock-ins. To clarify the dynamics at work, we analyzed the relationships between actors involved in 23 crop diversification experiences across 11 European countries. The novelty of this paper lies in the systemic analysis of the network of actors involved in crop diversification experiences. Using data from qualitative interviews and cognitive mapping approaches, we identify and describe the role of actors and the key relationships in crop diversification and detect relationships that are currently missing. Our study shows that in the different European countries, similar relationships act as levers or barriers to crop diversification, with farmers and researchers playing a crucial role. The most important cognitive factors that influence the choice of farmers to diversify are environmental and health concerns and the desire to make profit and innovate. We relate the cognitive factors to organizational, technical, economic, and political factors and suggest levers for crop diversification based on successful crop diversification experiences.


Agroecological transition; Cognitive mapping; Social-ecological systems; Qualitative approaches; Dynamics of agri-food systems

Published in

Agronomy for Sustainable Development
2023, Volume: 43, number: 5, article number: 67

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science
    Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

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