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

Agronomy : crops and cropping systems

UMR INNOVATION Innovation and Development in Agriculture and the Agri-Food Sector

Member institutes and partners  : Cirad, Inra, Montpellier SupAgro

The joint research unit (UMR) Innovation and Development in Agriculture and the Agrifoods Sector (CIRAD, INRA Montpellier SupAgro) conducts multidisciplinary research in France and internationally on individual and collective innovation processes, i.e. technical, organizational and institutional.

The research is focused on all processes, ranging from stakeholders’ innovation motivations and objectives, practical ways for implementing change to the impacts of development induced by these innovations. The UMR combines expertise in agronomy and social sciences.

The UMR studies ‘situated innovation’ by approaching innovation via the analysis of ‘under way’ action processes in different settings, change situations, and different issues (specific agricultural techniques, alternative agricultures, etc.). It should be possible to generate information and knowledge on overall patterns by placing these situations in perspective. The researchers adhere to partnership action research principles and participate in changing action objectives and those of all stakeholders involved.

The UMR is organized in three teams:

  • ‘Technical and Organizational Changes in Agricultural Production Systems’ (SPACTO):focused on the analysis of technical and organizational change on farms
  • ‘Social Construction of Markets, Qualities and Territorial Development’ (MARQUALTER):analyses changes in products and markets
  • ‘Territorial Innovation’ (IT): focuses on the analysis of territorial dynamics and impacts on agriculture, especially in urban and periurban situations.

Research on cropping systems and agricultural production is mainly conducted by the SPACTO team, with the aim of strengthening the adaptation capacities of family farms to changes in their environment (market and environmental constraints). This is addressed by descriptive and analytical approaches and through support facilities in which modelling and simulation tools are essential.

This multidisciplinary team (agronomists, economists, sociologists) is organized along three lines:

  • analysis in changes in agricultural production systems and rural household activity systems, and support in the design of innovative technical systems on the farm scale
  • ex-ante assessment of territorial consequences of individual changes, and analysis of relationships between farms and stakeholders involved at different global organization levels (catchments, etc.)
  • evaluation and development of farm advice and support systems and methods.

Three research issues are investigated: production management and choices of combinations of activities (agricultural or not) on farms; sociotechnical production method transformation processes; and stakeholder coordination processes.

The research is conducted in several areas:

  • France: viticulture (Languedoc-Roussillon) and rice-based cereal cropping systems (Camargue)
  • West Africa (Madagascar), North Africa and Brazil: rice cropping systems and mixed croppinglivestock systems (especially dairy production)
  • African cotton-growing regions:agropastoral systems
  • humid tropics (Africa and Central America): agroforestry systems.

SPACTO places emphasis on certain types of innovation: (i) conservation agriculture (France, Brazil), integrated protection (viticulture, France) and organic agriculture (grapevine and cereals, France); (ii) enhancement of croplivestock relationships on farm and territorial scales (Brazil, West Africa, Madagascar), (iii) and species associations (agroforestry in Africa and Central America, grapevine and cereals in France).

The team collaborates with farmers and farmers’ organizations, research and teaching teams in industrialized and developing countries, development institutions, private operators, NGOs and donors.

Director: Guy Faure

50  scientists

Unit website

List of research examples/projects for the resarch unit UMR INNOVATION Innovation and Development in Agriculture and the Agri-Food Sector on Agronomy: crops and cropping systems topics

Changing relationships between sugarcane growers and industrial stakeholders to improve sugarcane quality

Manual sugarcane harvesting in South Africa. - P.Y. Le Gal © CIRAD

Agroindustrial subsectors represent a significant income source for farmers in both developed and developing countries. Farmers and agroindustrial processing units interact in supply areas to manage physical flows of agricultural raw materials, information flows and incentive instruments implemented to regulate and pay for deliveries in quantitative and qualitative (...)

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


Identifying and gaining insight into farmers’ strategies and practices to assess the impacts of vine growers’ adoption of alternative types of agriculture on a catchment scale (France)

Pest and disease control treatment of vine crops

Many INRA research programmes and expert studies are underway with the aim of finding ways to sustainably and markedly reduce pesticide use and impacts in agriculture. Viticulture is not an exception since, in France, this sector consumes 20% of all pesticides applied on only 3.7% of the utilized agricultural area (UAA). In areas where vine monoculture prevails, (...)


Update on 19/04/12


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