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

Agronomy : crops and cropping systems

Keywords :

Environmental impact indicators in oil palm plantations

2. Minimizing the impact of cropping on biogeochemical cycles

2. Minimizing the impact of cropping on biogeochemical cycles

Example of Iphy-palm (‘pest and disease control’ indicator of the Ipalm method) indicator results. It is essential to understand and measure the environmental impacts of agricultural production in order to optimize cropping systems and thus ensure sustainable production. This is becoming a crucial issue with respect to oil palm cropping. The growing global demand for oil palm is rapidly increasing pressure on natural resources. Since 2004, CIRAD has been developing agroenvironmental indicators to help growers reduce their environmental impact by modifying their cropping practices. Indicators of the INDIGO® method have been adapted for oil palm. These indicators were designed through the modelling of emissions and potential impacts, and validated by comparison with field data. A scoring system, developed on the basis of scientific knowledge and field expertise, is used to classify practices on a scale of 0 (high environmental risk, change practices) to 10 (optimal situation, no risk), with 7 being set as the sustainability threshold.

These classification systems, which are already operational for the first four indicators (nitrogen, fertilization, pest and disease control, organic matter and soil cover), were pooled for calculation in a database with a user-friendly graphic interface, i.e. the Ipalm software package. Growers who adopt Ipalm can already obtain an environmental assessment of their plantation and determine how to improve their cropping practices via simulations. Upstream research is under way on the functioning of agroecosystems to enhance the development of new indicators and validate them under different conditions (climate, soils, agricultural practices, etc.). The team is also focusing specifically on the production of indicators of the impact of practices on biodiversity and water quality by broadening its environmental assessment approach to the landscape scale. In the longer term, socioeconomic impact indicators will potentially be integrated to address the many sustainability issues.

Jean-Pierre Caliman,
Aude Verwilghen,
& Cécile Bessou,

Publication date: 30/05/2010


Landscape and land use.© A. Verwilghen



Update on 19/04/12


Extrait du site