Industrial crops offer opportunities for farmers


Growing Industrial Crops: Discover the Opportunities for Farmers and Land Managers.

Industrial crops are often multipurpose crops.

They have the great advantage of being grown on land which may be considered too unproductive for food due to the high levels of harmful elements.

In addition, industrial crops can provide resources for high value added products and bioenergy and increase farmers’ incomes.

Researcher Efi Alexopoulou and Polish farmer Mateusz Ciasnocha share their experiences.

The researcher on marginal land use and establishment of supply chains, Efi Alexopoulou, is involved in the Horizon 2020 MAGIC project.

This project aims to make it easier for farmers to cultivate industrial crops.

Therefore, they developed a database of existing resource-efficient cash crops with information on their:

  • Agronomic characteristics;
  • Entry requirements;
  • Yield;
  • Quality features for end use applications.

Access to information on crops and cultivation techniques is essential, as is access to knowledge of market needs and a well-functioning supply chain.

What it takes to be successful

Efi: “Besides the technical information about the crops, farmers need to understand the market needs for the industrial crops they want to start growing. “

A supply chain is the second necessary step if there is a market need for a specific crop.

Most industrial crops are grown in smaller areas compared to conventional agricultural crops.

As a result, their supply chains are not well established, such as from farm to factory, which can lead to issues with harvesting, transportation, pre-processing, etc.

It is essential to bring together all relevant actors in the supply chain.

This could include farmers, advisers, scientists, farmer unions, farmer cooperatives and industry.

In this regard, EIP-AGRI operational groups and European projects such as Horizon Thematic Networks (like Panacea) can provide the necessary assistance to farmers on how to cultivate industrial culture and build a strong supply chain.

Hay for industrial purposes, Polish farmer Mateusz Ciasnocha works on his family farm in the Żuławy Wiślane region of northern Poland, covering 720 ha of land.

They export hay within the European Union for paper production, animal consumption and energy.

Mateusz used his network to identify potential buyers in setting up a supply chain.

Mateusz: “I spoke with several people in my network and asked them for references from their colleagues.

“You can access markets by building relationships with your customers. “

“We don’t venture into more exotic industrial cultures because markets and supply chains don’t exist here in Poland. “

“But I am convinced that as soon as there is a demand for a particular crop, the supply chain will follow! “

Advantages

Mateusz’s experiences with industrial crops are “good”.

Mateusz: “First, these crops could offer a higher profit per hectare than other crops in marginal areas. “

“The costs of inputs in the crop can sometimes be lower than those of food or fodder crops. “

“Therefore, this offers an attractive economic opportunity for a farmer. “

“Finally, we can’t forget the environmental benefits of industrial crops, including the potential to diversify your crop rotation, improve soil health or reduce erosion. “

“So with industrial crops, you can generate income and simultaneously improve the health of your soil. “

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