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

Agronomy : crops and cropping systems

UPR GECO Ecological Functioning and Sustainable Management of Banana and Pineapple Cropping Systems

Member institutes and partners  : Cirad

The internal research unit (UPR) Banana, Plantain and Pineapple Cropping Systems (CIRAD) aims to gain insight into the functioning of agrosystems under ecological intensification conditions via three models of crops of major socioeconomic importance:

  • Dessert banana production (the unit’s main model) for export is still based on intensive monocropping with very high chemical input use. The negative environmental impacts of these crops have to be reduced to ensure the sustainability of these crops.
  • The pineapple intensive cropping model supplements that of banana.
  • Plantain is the third model crop of the unit. Plantain for selfconsumption is grown in lowyielding conventional extensive cropping systems.

The performances of these cropping systems—which generate staple foods in many developing countries—must be improved to enhance food security in a setting of high population growth.

These models are unique because of the type of crop (tropical semiperennial) and scope of intensification that they represent (monocropping to multispecies cropping systems).

The UPR has two main objectives:

  • to carry out research in order to gain insight into the functioning of intensive tropical monocrop agrosystems so as to transform them into more sustainable cropping systems in which ecological processes overcome the need for chemical inputs
  • to design, develop and assess —with the participation of production stakeholders— innovative environment-friendly cropping systems that are tailored to the socioeconomic imperatives of local cropping.

The unit conducts three main lines of research:

  • Dynamics of pests and communities under ecological intensification conditions. The research is focused mainly on the impacts of spatial layouts of cropping systems on the dynamics of pest and disease development on intra- and extra-plot (landscape) scales, starting from the simplest systems (a single crop and variety) for subsequent case studies on multi-variety and -species mixtures.

    The unit also studies trophic links between pathogens and other species present—this research is approached as an integrated system of interactions between plants, pests and diseases and other communities within the agroecosystem.

  • States of the environment and agrosystem functioning under ecological intensification conditions. The research is focused on determining how ecological intensification practices (use of cover crops, exogenous organic matter input) help improve the soil physical properties, ensure deep rooting, restore organic matter levels, while contributing to the biological activity and improving mineral bioavailability. This research is complemented by studies on the impacts of ecological intensification practices on pollutant flows.
  • Sustainable cropping system development and assessment. The research is based on pooled knowledge acquired by the unit in the first two lines of research (using modelling tools) and on prototyping of cropping systems (designing systems on the basis of expertise, and model-assisted design). The systems are participatively evaluated in the framework of partnerships with the production sector.

Studies are carried out in partnership with other research units and institutions (e.g. LISAH, SYSTEM, PSH, UR Tropical Agrosystems (West Indies), Faculté universitaire des sciences agronomiques de Gembloux and the Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium), Rothamsted Research (UK), etc.). One partnership led to the development of the African Research Centre on Banana and Plantain (CARBAP), a regional research platform (countries of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa). The unit also conducts research in networks of national (Latin America, Africa), regional (International Center for Tropical Agriculture, etc.) and international (Bioversity International, etc.) scientific and technical partners.

A collaborative initiative developed with banana and pineapple production subsectors in Guadeloupe and Martinique (UGPBAN) led to founding of the Institut technique de la banane (ITBAN) and the Plan Banane Durable Guadeloupe- Martinique.

Director: Luc De Lapeyre de Bellaire

22  scientists

Unit website

List of research examples/projects for the resarch unit UPR GECO Ecological Functioning and Sustainable Management of Banana and Pineapple Cropping Systems on Agronomy: crops and cropping systems topics

Modelling the functioning of a tropical agrosystem:an application to banana plantations

Banana/Neonotonia wightii (legume) association- © J.M. Risede

Modification of overall agrosystem functioning is required for cropping system (CS) innovation. A system approach to relationships between plants, pests and the environment is needed to understand and describe the functioning of these new systems, which are more complex than systems in which inputs are massively used. This system-based representation of agrosystem (...)

Organized diversity and pest and disease dynamics

Black Sigatoka (Mycosphaerella fijiensis) symptoms on a banana leaf. F. Côte © CIRAD

Communities of biological organisms living in cultivated terrestrial ecosystems have an impact on their productivity and sustainability, either directly, e.g. pests and diseases, or indirectly, e.g. ‘soil engineers’ or litter processors. The working hypothesis is that the reintroduction and promotion of biodiversity in relatively nondiversified agrosystems can (...)

Hydrological functioning on plot and catchment scales in tropical environments–a case study of banana

Features of the hydrological balance in the elementary catchment of Féfé (20 ha).

Ignorance of the main mechanisms controlling the fate of pesticides used in tropical environments is partly responsible for environmental problems in the West Indies and most banana-growing areas worldwide. As part of a study to assess the fate of pesticides in volcanic tropical environmental conditions, environmental degradation which could be potentially induced (...)

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,


Update on 19/04/12


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