What was the challenge/ problem that was addressed?
The “Segunda Via” project was aimed to develop a modern agricultural management model that reconciles the profitability of agricultural production with conservation and restoration practices of ecological habitats. For the project to be successful a working group was ensembled to cover a wide spectrum of subjects. The team consisted of a farmer (the promoter of the project), two public entities, a consulting firm and services companies related with the agricultural sector. The university had the scientific expertise and know-how to quantify ecosystem services (either through field work or on-site sampling); the farmer had the initial idea and was willing to find the right answer to his initial question and wanted to promote this initiative after the project (the farmer continues to promote this model to this day); public entities had experience with this type of projects and knew how it could be developed and implemented; the consulting firm had the know-how to manage this type of projects and help facilitate communication between all entities involved, as well as the technical skills necessary to present the output results; and finally, services companies had the means, skills and materials to implement the project. Without partnership and continuous communication between all partners, the project would not be successful.
How did you solve the problem?
To solve our challenge, the farmer and the consulting firm did preliminary research to understand where the optimal spaces (in this case less productive area) were on the farm site and what ecological areas needed to be restored and which ones could be implemented. After initial research, service companies were contacted to design and determine which species would be best for the area: in this step, the landscape architecture firm determined which species of trees and shrubs would be used; while the seed company determined the optimal seed mixes for creating “flower strips” next to the agricultural plots. After the planning and implementation of the ecological areas, the quantification of the ecosystem services carried out by the university and consultations was done quickly, and the outputs were disseminated on the project website and during two field days.
What are the success factors in solving the problem?
Success factors in solving the problem were constant communication between all project partners to ensure that everything was done according to the activity plan. Faculty was in constant contact with the farmer to know when they could quantify ecosystem services, while the farmer was in constant contact with service companies (related to the sector) to ensure that the operations regarding ecological implementation/restoration of the ecological focus areas were done according to the schedule. The consulting company designed the schedule with feedback from all other partners to ensure that everything would be synchronized.
Unexpected fails if any
From the implementation of this model, the results of the quantification of ecosystem services and the feedback from two field days (we managed to gather different people from different fields of the agricultural sector) that this model indeed works and that there are multiple benefits from implementing it. Regarding climate benefits, by implementing/maintaining a vast array of healthy and functional habitats on agricultural lands, we can create a more resilient system against climate change and mitigate some of its negative effects that are occurring more frequently. In addition to mitigation, the implementation/maintenance of these habitats will enhance an important set of ecosystem series in terms of ecological benefits, by implementing/maintaining a wide range of healthy habitats, we are providing some of the fundamental conditions for existing flora and fauna, such as diverse shelters, food sources and water. Finally, regarding the agricultural benefits, the existence of ecological structures provides livestock with shelter, shade and water; healthier soil result in better harvests with fewer associated costs; the presence of biodiversity shelters (for birds or bats) near agricultural plots will allow natural pest control, which in turn will not only reduce the need, cost and use of herbicides and pesticides, but also benefit pollinating insects (the number of which is rapidly decreasing).
What role does the advisor or advisory service play within the practical case?
The advisor had two major roles. First, it helped facilitate communication between all project partners, namely between the farmer and university staff. Second, it organized, prepared, and presented the results of the quantification of the ecosystem services and highlighted the key information people needed to know.
Can your approach be transferred and/or adapted for other innovation challenges and regions?
Estimated transferability on a scale from 1 to 5
(where 1 is easy and 5 very difficult)
For sharing the experience on the good practice, please contact Francisca Viveiros (email@example.com)