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cropping systems
managing pests
pesticide use inputs

agricultural systems
challenge of agriculture

innovation plant (annual,perennial,...)
tropical and Mediterranean area
environmental footprint of farming

Key figures

13 multidisciplinary research units

300 researchers and teacher-researchers

19 diploma courses

25 short training-education programmes

Thematic directory Agropolis

Download the agronomy thematic file " n° 12 (July 2010, 68 p.) 2nd Edition 2012

agronomy thematic file


Portal contact :
Chantal Salson
Agropolis International
Tel. : +33 (0)4 67 04 75 49

Coordinator : Jacques Wery
(Montpellier SupAgro)
Tel. : +33 (0)4 99 61 25 07


Agronomy Research Expertise in Montpellier and Languedoc-Roussillon (South of France)

Agronomy : crops and cropping systems

5. Developing and disseminating innovations

Jean-Marc Barbier
UMR Innovation

Publication date : 30/05/2010

In many situations, research and development stakeholders complain that farmers take little advantage of innovations developed by researchers in laboratories or research stations. There are several reasons for this nonadoption, which have been the focus of numerous intra- and inter-disciplinary studies for several decades. These studies have given rise to ‘farming systems research’ approaches, which stress the importance of identifying and understanding farmers’ rationales, strategies and practices prior to or at the same time as developing innovations for—and sometimes in collaboration with—farmers.

Many current projects are aimed at developing tools to support farmers in redesigning their production systems, while others seek to identify and assess public or private support measures that would be more efficient in creating an environment that is more conducive to the transformation of these systems. Modelling and simulation have a major role, even within stakeholders’ groups for negotiating types of changes to promote and ways to induce them.

Participatory assessment of problems encountered (low biomass, inefficient erosion control, poor planning,etc) on a DMC plot in the Brazilian Amazon region- © E. Scopel
In these studies, agronomists are involved to an increasing extent:

  • (i) to assess, within research units, invention and innovation development processes, and to improve design approaches and the type of technical references produced,
  • (ii) with development and extension services, to study how stakeholders-experts responsible for disseminating knowledge are involved and communicate on available technical alternatives,
  • (iii) to study how it would be possible to combine the knowledge of scientific experts and farmers so as to invent new systems that would be more readily adopted, and
  • (iv) to introduce new ‘farming system research’ approaches by taking the multiple activities of farm households and risk (climatic, market, etc.) management into much greater account.

This work complements that of other disciplines (especially social and economic) on the question of the adoptability of innovations by farmers. They also help to change researchers’ approaches, to take the opinions of stakeholders other than public and private farmers into consideration in the analysis of processes, as well as everyone’s perception of their occupations and combined activities.


Agronomy research expertise

  • Research projects
  • Research units and teams involved

DMC adoption in developing countries

Direct seeding of maize on harvest residue mulch in smallscale mechanized farming conditions. Xayaboury province, Laos.F. Julien © AgriDev

DMC techniques have mainly been adopted over the last three decades in South and North America and Australia, where they have emerged independently from national research and extension systems. These technical changes are harder to implement in developing countries because of the nature of most of their agricultural enterprises: small farms, subsistence strategies, (...)

Organic viticulture–integrated analysis of the conversion to organic agriculture

Vineyard in the process of conversion to organic agriculture. © A Mérot

Organic agriculture (OA) is an ideal framework for setting up more sustainable cropping systems, especially for viticultural systems in which pesticide treatments are substantially used. OA conversions are occurring at a fast pace in viticulture, especially in Mediterranean vineyards (+ 20% between 2006 and 2008 according to Agence Bio) even though the knowledge (...)

Sustainable production and innovation for smallholders in developing countries

Bean crop under DMC in Madagascar. © E. Scopel

The improvement and stabilization of smallholders’ agricultural production are key challenges for international agronomic research. Soils in tropical environments are varied but fragile and the climatic conditions are harsh, with a high probability of catastrophic events occurring. Socioeconomic conditions for smallholders in such regions are also often difficult (...)

Anti-insect netting tailored for protecting vegetable crops in the tropics

M. Tonou, a horticulture farmer at Ouidha, Benin, explaining to his colleagues how to use anti-insect netting to protect cabbage crops.© T. Martin

In tropical regions, vegetable crops are infested year-round by a broad range of pests. Farmers generally deal with this problem by spraying pesticides. Although farmers, through such unplanned and uncontrolled chemical treatments, may sometimes be able to turn a profit, the residues remaining on the vegetables are a threat to consumer health, and there is a (...)

Innovation and supporting mixed cropping-livestock farms (Burkina Faso)

Mechanical weeding in a cotton field—cattle draught is still an essential element for crop-livestock integration in Burkina Faso. © P. Dugué

In sub-Saharan savanna areas, the extension of technical innovations in different production sectors has shown its limits. It cannot, for instance, provide a solution to complex issues such as soil fertility management, crop-livestock integration, or changes in cropping patterns on farms.

In cotton-growing areas in Burkina Faso, CIRAD has developed


Introduction of sanitizing plants in citrus orchards in the West Indies—an example of a participatory innovative cropping system design initiative

A sanitizing plant in a citrus orchard

A participatory method for designing and assessing innovative cropping systems is currently being tested by the CIRAD HortSys research unit with the aim of reducing herbicide treatments in citrus cropping systems in the West Indies. The constraints of the current system were assessed and potential improvements determined with stakeholders. In response, different (...)

This example was not published on the file in July 2010.

Participatory validation of innovative cropping systems—the Sustainable Banana Plan for Guadeloupe and Martinique

A banana-Stylosanthes guyanensis cropping system – © Marc Dorel, CIRAD

Highlighting the problem and issues
Cropping systems (CS) should be able to quickly integrate innovations that differ markedly from current practices with the aim of reducing input use and negative environmental impacts and addressing societal and regulatory changes. Developing new cropping systems is an innovation process in which the Banana,

This example was not published on the file in July 2010.

Modelling plant-pest interactions and assessing technical integrated production scenarios

A green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) infestation on a peach branch

Problems associated with integrated production are especially marked in horticulture. This is an ideal field for designing innovative agricultural systems, which is a major methodological challenge facing agriculture today. The underlying scientific challenge is to clarify functional interactions between horticultural plants and pests under the influence of cropping (...)

This example was not published on the file in July 2010.

Participative research to support the development of smallholder natural rubber plantations

Tree crops, and especially smallholder plantations, which account for over 80% of the natural rubber growing area, have a key role for development and sustainable reduction of poverty, which is especially high in rural areas. Research and extension are essential for improving soil productivity and labour conditions on family farms. After an assessment phase, (...)

This example was not published on the file in July 2010.

Adaptive management strategies for soil maintenance in viticulture

Grass cover—sown or natural—in vineyards maintains the soil while also providing different services concerning viticultural production and its environmental impact. However, three problems hamper its adoption in Mediterranean regions: having two coexisting plant covers under limited water and nitrogen resource conditions, determining a management method that (...)

This example was not published on the file in July 2010.

Research units and teams involved in "Developing and disseminating innovations"

Click on the title to see the web site Member institutes and partners Scientists number Director Description
UMR INNOVATION : Innovation and Development in Agriculture and the Agri-Food Sector
The processes through which agriculture adapts are founded on technical and organizational innovations, on both a collective and an individual level.
Cirad, Inra, Montpellier SupAgro 50 Guy Faure See the description
UMR SYSTEM : Tropical and Mediterranean Cropping System Functioning and Management
The unit generates knowledge and tools for use in assessing, steering and developing cropping systems.
CIHEAM-IAM.M, Cirad, Inra, Montpellier SupAgro 20 Christian Gary See the description
UPR HortSys : Agroecological Functioning and Performances of Horticultural Cropping Systems
Inventing an ecologically intensive type of horticulture so as to feed people better: this is a wide-ranging mandate for the unit, whose main aim is to generate and capitalize on knowledge so as to assess and design sustainable horticultural cropping systems.
Cirad 28 Fabrice Le Bellec See the description
UPR PSCPP : Performance of Tree Crop-Based Systems Cirad 20 Eric Gohet See the description
UPR AIDA : Agro-ecology and Sustainable Intensification of Annual Crops
The Annual Cropping Systems (SCA) and Conservation Agriculture and Engineering (SIA) Research Units were merged to form this new unit as of 1 January 2014.
Cirad 56 Eric Scopel See the description
UPR AIDA : Conservation Agriculture and Engineering -->Agro-ecology and Sustainable Intensification of Annual Crops
The Annual Cropping Systems (SCA) and Conservation Agriculture and Engineering (SIA) Research Units were merged to form this new unit as of 1 January 2014.
Cirad 13 See the description
UPR GECO : Ecological Functioning and Sustainable Management of Banana and Pineapple Cropping Systems
Although export fruit crops are a major source of jobs and currency, they are now often barely viable, in agronomic, economic or social terms. These fruit monocultures often cause pollution and impoverish the environment. The markets are increasingly competitive and consumers increasingly demanding.
Cirad 22 Luc De Lapeyre de Bellaire See the description
UR PSH : Plant and Garden Cropping Systems (in French) Inra Avignon 24 Hélène Gautier See the description



See also...

1. Ensuring top quality, high quantity production2. Minimizing the impact of cropping on biogeochemical cycles3. Managing pests and optimizing pesticide use4. Preserving water resources5. Developing and disseminating innovationsResearch units, training, networks and more



Other information

logo investissement d'avenir

The "Laboratoires d'excellence" (LabEx) selected by the Ministry of Education and Research "Agronomy and Sustainable Development" (Agro) is led by Agropolis Fondation and focuses on Plants of agronomic interest.
Information on Agropolis web site
Agropolis Fondation website

logo ESA Société européenne d'agronomieAgropolis International managed the secretariat of the European Society for Agronomy (ESA) from 2010 to 2016
Information in the Agropolis International newsletter
ESA European Society for Agronomy website

séminaire agroécologie MontpellierAgroecology monthly cycle of seminars in Montpellier 
Several joint agricultural research units in Montpellier from CIRAD, INRA, IRD and SupAgro have initiated a monthly cycle of seminars and debates, in partnership with Agropolis International, around Agroecology : ecological intensification of cropping systems.
See the page about the Agroecology monthly cycle of seminars in Montpellier, France 



Update on 21/08/17


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