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

Agronomy : crops and cropping systemse

Keywords :

Integrated modelling of cropping practices and biomass flows in agricultural production systems

2. Minimizing the impact of cropping on biogeochemical cycles

2. Minimizing the impact of cropping on biogeochemical cycles

View of a cattle farm in the highland region of Réunion. - © J.M. Médoc The ‘Mafate’ approach was developed for modelling and analysing mass flows on farm and territory scales, and designed to represent farmers’ practices and test management strategies. It involves four steps: (i) acquisition of knowledge on practices, (ii) their conceptual representation (action models, typologies), (iii) construction of simulation models, (iv) use of these models to evaluate the functioning of targeted production systems. Several models have been developed with the same representation and goals, i.e. to simulate mass transfers between production units represented by stocks, linked by flows, which in turn are controlled by actions: 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, Plantain and Pineapple Cropping Systems research unit is highly involved, while giving priority to ‘knowledge integration’, ‘prototyping’ and ‘participatory prototype assessment’ aspects. CS prototype design is based on two different approaches

  • (proposing prototypes designed on the basis of expert recommendations
  • simulating the agricultural and environmental performances of a range of cropping techniques using models

Methodological approach
Methods for developing cropping system prototypes with West Indian banana growers were formalized. This approach is based on a partnership established with the Union des Groupements de Producteurs de Bananes-Antilles (UGPBAN) within the framework of the ‘Sustainable Banana Plan’ research and development project that the research unit drew up with the production commodity chain. This plan was officially launched in late 2008 by the French Ministry of Agriculture, different authorities of Guadeloupe and Martinique and CIRAD.
In parallel, a technical institute devoted to bananas was founded in the West Indies in late 2008: the Institut Technique de la Banane (ITBan) provides a link between research, production and institutions. The research unit contributed to the development of this institute and coordinates its scientific and technical committee.
Within the framework of the Sustainable Banana Plan, two platforms were set up in direct collaboration with banana growers and ITBan:

  • (platform N°1: validation of innovative cropping systems
  • platform N°2: hybrid selection

* * platform N°2 activities are managed by the UR75 research unit

Results – Designing innovative banana cropping systems
Six cropping prototypes were identified for Guadeloupe and Martinique. They are being assessed within the framework of platform N°1 and are initially tailored to be applied in two settings:

  • (Mechanizable lowland areas
  • Nonmechanizable highland areas

The proposed techniques are pooled in a gradual design approach, beginning from current systems to result in directly usable prototypes. These prototypes are all based on the use of cover plants (grasses, legumes, shade cover plants, dead cover, with exogenous and endogenous organic matter inputs, etc.) with minimal tillage. They also comply with different West Indian farming specifications. The performances of these cropping systems are assessed via multicriteria evaluation grids concerning their agricultural, economic (on a plot level in a farming context) and environmental (catchment, landscape) performances so as to be able to objectively apply the sustainability concept.

    Contact(s) :
    François Guerrin,
    Jean-Michel Médoc,
    & Jean-Marie Paillat,

    Publication date : 30/05/2010

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